Cyclone Winston

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Record-breaking Tropical Cyclone Winston devastated parts of Fiji when it hit the archipelago in February.

Cyclone Winston
Date & Time
21 February 2016 21:34 UTC
Infrared Channel

By Mark Higgins

Tropical Cyclone Winston was reported to be the strongest storm in recorded history for the Southern Hemisphere, after hitting Fiji with maximum sustained winds of around 297 km/h (185 mph). It was also the first recorded Category 5 cyclone to make landfall in Fiji.

At least 18 people were reported to have died, hundreds of properties were destroyed and approximately 80% of the nation's 900,000 people lost power.

The Metop-B AVHRR infrared images show Tropical Cyclone Winston after it had passed over Fiji. The storm initially formed northeast of the islands and circled round them before making landfall on 20 February.

Figure 1 (above right) is the Metop-B AVHRR IR image with the ASCAT winds overlaid, from 21 February 21:34 UTC. Figure 2 is the comparison between the standard infrared and the enhanced infrared from the same time. The enhanced image shows the cloud top temperatures, with the colder clouds shown in blue to red (the coldest tops were 180 K).

Image comparison
Metop-B AVHRR IR Enhanced Metop-B AVHRR IR image
Figure 2: Comparison of Metop-B images, with the coldest clouds (-180 K) shown in red on the enhanced infrared.

Download full resolution AVHRR IR image
Download full resolution enhanced image
View the KMZ file of the enhanced AVHRR IR image in Google Earth.

The composite infrared animation, below, shows the progress of Cyclone Winston, from 10 Feb 00:00 UTC–22 Feb 06:00 UTC, as it circled Fiji before making landfall.


See also:

Severe Cyclone Winston in the South Pacific Ocean (CIMSS Blog)
Winston's 185 mph Winds in Fiji: Southern Hemisphere's Strongest Storm on Record (Dr Jeff Masters, Weather Underground)
Fiji: images of flattened villages show brutal force of Cyclone Winston (The Guardian)

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