August 26, 2011
Large and powerful Hurricane Irene is poised to become the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Ike in 2008. As of Friday afternoon, Aug. 26, Irene was a category two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, with maximum sustained winds near 100 mph (160 kilometers per hour). An initial landfall is predicted in eastern North Carolina on Aug. 27. Beyond that, the storm is expected to skirt the coastline of the eastern United States. A second landfall is expected in New England on Aug. 28. At that time, the storm is expected to be weaker but still dangerous.
The public is invited to follow Irene's progress and learn more about the storm and NASA's hurricane research online. Satellite images of Irene from a variety of sources are being displayed on NASA's TC-IDEAS website at http://hurricanes.jpl.nasa.gov . The website is a near-real-time tropical cyclone data resource developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., to support last summer's NASA Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) hurricane field campaign. Users should note that some of the data links developed to support last year's airborne field campaign are not currently active.
In collaboration with other institutions, the website integrates data from satellites, models and direct measurements from many sources to help researchers quickly locate information about current and recent oceanic and atmospheric conditions. The composite images and data are updated every hour and are displayed using a Google Earth plug-in. With a few mouse clicks, users can manipulate data and overlay multiple data sets to provide insights on storms that aren't possible by looking at single data sets alone. The data can be animated and downloaded on demand.
TC-IDEAS is a component of JPL's Tropical Cyclone Information System (TCIS) website, located at: http://tropicalcyclone.jpl.nasa.gov/hurricane/. Researchers can use the TCIS to better understand hurricane processes, improve hurricane models and plan future satellite missions.
More on NASA's hurricane research and Irene is online at NASA's hurricanes/tropical cyclones website: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hurricanes/main/index.html .
Alan Buis 818-354-0474
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.