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NASA Satellite Sees Tropical Storm Bingiza Hugging Western Madagascar Coastline

February 16, 2011

Infrared satellite data from NASA is showing some strong thunderstorms over west-central Madagascar today as Tropical Storm Bingiza continues to hug the western coast of the island nation.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Bingiza today, Feb. 16 at 10:17 UTC (5:17 a.m. EST). The image revealed some strong convection over the west-central coast where thunderstorm cloudtops were high and dropping moderate to heavy rainfall. Infrared data can provide temperature information to scientists, which is important as the higher the cloud top, the colder it is, and the stronger the thunderstorm. Cloud top temperatures as cold as or colder than -52 degrees Celsius (-63 Fahrenheit) were evident in today’s AIRS data, suggesting strong thunderstorms still existed, despite Bingiza’s weakening over the last 24 hours.

At 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST) on Feb. 16, Tropical storm Bingiza’s maximum sustained winds were near 35 knots (40 mph/64 kmh). It was centered just off-shore from the town of Tambohorano, Madagascar. That’s about 200 miles west-northwest of Antananarivo, near 17.4 South and 43.9 East. The eastern half of Tropical Storm Bingiza was over land, while the western half remained over the Mozambique Channel.

At 12 p.m. EST on Feb. 16, rainfall from Bingiza stretched from Mahajanga in the north through Veromanga to Itondy in the south. Tambohorano, a town located along the western coast reported light rainfall at that time.

Bingiza continues to move to the south-southwest near 5 knots and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast suggests that Bingiza will move inland over southern Madagascar in the next couple of days where it will dissipate.

Image Caption: The AIRS instrument that flies aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Bingiza today, Feb. 16 at 10:17 UTC (5:17 a.m. EST) that showed some strong convection (purple) over the west-central coast where thunderstorm cloud-tops were high and dropping moderate to heavy rainfall. Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen

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