Amazing Satellite-Based Animation of
Category 4 Hurricane Ian From Its
Birth As TD9 to Its Final Dissipation!
Last Updated: October 3, 2022
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NOTE : This page is best viewed on a desktop computer and not on a mobile device such as a tablet or a cellphone. Viewing it on a mobile device will result in some portions of the page being distorted. If you are using a cell phone, for best results, please turn it sideways to landscape mode.
Allow me to share with you a small amount of science regarding tropical storms and hurricanes.
Hurricanes start out somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean basin, the Caribbean Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico, as Tropical Disturbances. When such an area of convection reaches the status of Tropical Depression, it is assigned a number. If the Tropical Depression continues to develop and reaches the status of Tropical Storm -- which occurs when its sustained winds exceed 39 MPH -- it is assigned an actual name. A Tropical Storm reaches hurricane status when its sustained winds exceed 74 MPH. From that point forward, depending on how much it intensifies, it can be a Category 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 hurricane. These various categories will be explained in more detail further down on this same page.
It usually takes a few days -- or longer -- for a Tropical Disturbance to develop into a full-blown hurricane. These tropical storms and hurricanes generally move from the southeast near the Equator to the northwest, although they sometimes will also move north, northeast, or even make a beeline straight west. In either case, the majority of them eventually curve northward, and then northeastward, where they run into the Polar Jet Stream, which rips them apart.
Very powerful hurricanes are quite capable of knocking down concrete power poles as if they are toothpicks, turning over and stacking up cars, and even tossing huge, heavy ocean freight containers through the air as if they are matchbox toys. As strong hurricanes make landfall, they can also create a powerful wall of water -- referred to as a surge -- which in very severe cases can be as much as 20-30 feet high. Such surges can be very destructive, and will wipe out the vegetation for hundreds of feet inward along the coastline, as well as destroy any weak structures. So as you can see, a strong hurricane is not a threat to be taken lightly.
Furthermore, powerful tropical storms which develop in the Pacific Ocean basin north of the Equator and west of the International Date Line are referred to as typhoons, while those which form to the east of the International Date Line and north of the Equator are referred to as hurricanes. In some regions, they are also referred to as cyclones. Meteorologically-speaking, they are basically the same phenomenon with different nomenclatures. One final interesting point is that in the Northern Hemisphere, these weather phenomena rotate counterclockwise, while in the Southern Hemisphere they rotate clockwise.
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CARIBBEAN SEA - GULF OF MEXICO - FLORIDA MAPS
The images below will help to familiarize you with what you are seeing in the Hurricane Ian animation which you will find further down on this same page.
To see a HUGE, very detailed map of Florida, please click the link below. The map will open in a new tab in your web browser. To enlarge the map to its full size, simply click on it. You can then use your mouse to navigate around on the map. This is the map you want to have if you are tracking a hurricane through Florida.
CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE IAN ANIMATION: BIRTH TO DISSIPATION!
The animation below displays Ian's complete life cycle from its birth as Tropical Depression 9 -- or TD9 -- to its gradual development as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, and then to its eventual demise when it dissipates after passing through the Carolinas and Virginia. The movie covers a period of ten days from Thursday, September 22, 2022 at 7:50 PM Florida time, to Sunday, October 2, 2022 at 3:31 PM Florida time. The animation begins at nighttime near the Venezuelan coast. It is just under four minutes long. Additional info is provided below the animation.
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On Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at 3:05 PM Florida time, Hurricane Ian roared ashore as a very strong Category 4 -- almost Category 5 -- hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 MPH, and higher gusts. According to NOAA/NWS bulletins and GOES-EAST satellite imagery, landfall occurred at a small barrier island called Cayo Costa, which is located at the mouth of the bay which is home to Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Fort Myers and other towns and cities. Following initial landfall at Cayo Costa, Ian then struck Punta Gorda.
Upon making landfall, Ian began to rapidly weaken as it moved inland across the middle section of the state of Florida. By the time it reached Florida's east coast, not far from Cape Canaveral, it had been reduced to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 65 MPH with higher gusts. However, upon reaching the Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Storm Ian began to restrengthenn, and was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 MPH when it made landfall again near Georgetown, South Carolina.
Naturally, when Ian made landfall, it began to weaken again due to not being able to absorb energy from the Atlantic Ocean. As a result, it was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 60 MPH. What a far cry from the brute force with which it assaulted Coya Costa and the rest of Florida only two days earlier. Post-Tropical Cyclone Ian then proceeded to head north through South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, slowly losing steam, and finally dissipating. By 5:00 AM Saturday, October 1, 2022, Florida time, it was barely a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 35 MPH, as its remnants were slowly pushed eastward. Thus its destructive rampage came to an end.
As was expected, there was massive flooding all across central Florida, with water rising up to the roofs in some locations. Over two and a half million Floridians were left without power as a result of the storm's passage. To date, dozens of people have been confirmed to have lost their lives due to this ferocious storm, which has now been tied as the fifth strongest hurricane to strike the continental USA to date.
1. This 1250 x 750 pixels animation consists of two parts which were joined together. The first part was made from 459 satellite images of the lower Caribbean Sea region -- including the coast of northern South America -- which were taken by NOAA's GOES-East satellite. The acronym GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite. It is a part of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite Program, which is a collaboration between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a.k.a. NOAA. The second part of the animation currently consists of 1,891 satellite images of the upper Caribbean Sea region, as well as the Gulf of Mexico, which were also taken by the GOES-East satellite. So, altogether, the animation currently consists of 2,350 satellite images.
2. In the first part of the animation, each frame represents a passage of ten minutes; whereas in the second, longer part of the animation, each frame represents a passage of five minutes. That is why the motion in the first part of animation appears twice as fast as the motion in the second part. In order to slow down the full animation so that you can observe it better, I have set the overall frame rate to 10 FPS, or Frames Per Second. However, you will still notice the difference in forward motion speed between part one and part two.
3. In the first part of the animation you will witness the birth of TD9 -- or Tropical Depression 9 -- in the Lesser Antilles islands, off the coast of Venezuela. In this animation, look for the small, white, fluffy patch of clouds in the area of the islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire. I have placed a red arrow in the opening frames so that you can easily find it. By September 22nd, TD9 had strengthened further and developed into a tropical storm, which was assigned the name Tropical Storm Ian. As TS Ian approached the Cayman Islands, it continued to develop further and became a full-fledged hurricane, which was given the name Hurricane Ian. This is where the first part of the animation ends.
4. Hurricane Ian continued to develop and intensify. By the time it reached the western portion of Cuba -- which you can see in the second part of the animation -- it was a powerful Category 3 hurricane. Landfall occurred at 4:30 AM on Tuesday, September 27, 2022 in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province. I have marked the spot in the animation with a red arrow containing the word "LANDFALL". While Ian weakened ever so slightly as it crossed over Cuba, once it entered the southeastern sector of the Gulf of Mexico, the warm water allowed it to continue to intensify. Thus, on September 28, 2022, it became an extremely powerful Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 MPH and higher gusts. It continued to maintain this strength when it arrived at Florida's southwestern coast and made landfall at the barrier island of Cayo Costa at 3:05 PM, Florida time. I again show this particular point in the video with a red arrow containing the word "LANDFALL".
5. As I said, this animated movie was made from two different sets of images obtained by NOAA's GOES-East satellite. Because the images of the lower Caribbean Sea region were 1000 x 1000 pixels in size, while the images of the upper Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico were 1250 x 750 pixels in size, it was necessary for me to cut off the top 250 pixels of the first 459 frames, and to also extend them to the right by 250 pixels. This extended area was colored black in all of the frames. You see, in order to create the animation, it was necessary to make all 2,350 frames the exact same dimensions. You will obviously notice where the first 459 frames end, and the remaining 1,891 frames begin. It is a little abrupt, because you have to move your eyes from the left side of your screen to the bottom middle portion of your screen. However, that was beyond my control, due to the different image dimensions. Please note that the second part of the animation continues exactly where the first part ends.
6. The shadows you see at regular intervals throughout the animation are caused by the Sun rising and setting as the Earth rotates on its axis, thus transitioning from daytime to nighttime.
7. The golden brown splotches you see in the animation are the lights of towns and cities in each nation, state or island.
EXPLANATION REGARDING TIMESTAMPS
If you wish to find a particular spot in the video based on the timestamp, please note that these images use Universal Time Coordinated -- UTC -- also known as Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT. At the bottom of each image, you will see the time, followed by the letter "Z". The "Z" means "Zulu Time", and is simply an indication that UTC is being used.
To translate the time shown to your local time, you need to know what GMT time zone you live in. For example, if you live in the state of Florida, depending on whether EDT or DST is in effect, you will be either GMT -4 or else GMT -5.
So, if a satellite image says "02 Oct 2022 08:45Z", at this current time of year, you would deduct four hours from the time that is shown on the image, if you live on the US East Coast. This means that the image was taken at 4:45 AM on October 2, 2022. On the other hand, if the timestamp says "02 Oct 2022 17:45Z", when you deduct four hours, you get 13:45. This is 24-hour military time, and equates to 1:45 PM.
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SAFFIR-SIMPSON HURRICANE RATING SCALE
Designed by Florida consultant engineer Herbert Saffir and Robert Simpson -- a former head of the National Hurricane Center -- the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Rating Scale is used to describe the effects of a hurricane based on its category, wind speed, storm surge and potential for flooding.
1 - Weak
> 28.94 in. Hg
> 980.0 mb
> 97.7 kPa
Minimal Damage to Vegetation
2 - Moderate
28.50-28.93 in. Hg
Moderate Damage to Houses
3 - Strong
27.91-28.49 in. Hg
Extensive Damage to Small Buildings
4 - Very Strong
27.17-27.90 in. Hg
Extreme Structural Damage
5 - Devastating
> 155 mph
> 135 knots
> 70 mts/sec
< 27.17 in. Hg
< 920.1 mb
< 91.7 kPa
> 18.0 ft.
> 5.5 mts.
Catastrophic Building Failures Possible
If you would like to download a nice graphic which displays the various categories, please click the link below. The image will open in a new tab in your web browser.
Maximum Sustained Surface Winds: In Knots ------- In MPH ------ In KPH
What this means is that if a cyclone, typhoon or hurricane is about to strike you, and the barometric pressure at sea level is 938 millibars, for example, you can expect Maximum Sustained Surface Winds of 105 knots, which is the same as 120.83 miles per hour (mph), or 194.46 kilometers per hour (kph).
Caveat : Please note, however, that other factors come into play, such as other meteorological forces affecting the storm, reduction in speed, encountering land, etc. So the wind speeds you actually experience may not be exactly what you expect, based on the barometric pressure in millibars. Hurricane and typhoon prediction is NOT an exact science, and these monsters often have a mind of their own and can do unexpected things.
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RECOMMENDED TYPHOON TOOL FOR iOS USERS
If you live in an area which is prone to strikes by hurricanes, typhoons or cyclones, Barometer & Altimeter Pro is a very cool -- and free with no ads -- tool to have. It is specifically designed for users of iOS devices which have a barometric pressure sensor installed by Apple. As of this writing, these include the following devices:
iPhone 6, 6s, 7, 8, X (including Plus models)
iPad Air 2, Mini 4, iPad Pro (all sizes) and the newest iPad
Apple Watch model 3
Once you get the hang of the app -- go to the app's settings, and scroll down until you come to the "Help / About" link -- not only will you be able to know the barometric pressure at your location -- referred to as "station" -- but you will also know the barometric pressure at sea level, and be able to track the changes in pressure in the interactive trending section of the app. Please refer to the graph below. This information will tell you if a storm is strengthening or weakening, and still approaching you or moving away from you. In other words, once the storm begins to move away, the barometric pressure will begin to rise again on the graph, whereas while the storm is still approaching you, the barometric pressure will continue to drop on the graph. Of course, there may be small fluctuations even while the pressure readings continue in one general direction -- that is, up or down -- on the graph. Such is the nature of these powerful tropical storms.
As a bonus, if you are the outdoors type, the altimeter function can also be used for activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, etc.
This app is particularly useful when the power goes out due to an approaching storm, and you no longer have access to external weather reports via radio, TV or Internet. Unlike some other barometer apps, this app does NOT require an Internet connection in order for you to use it. As long as you have juice in your iOS device, you are good to go! So, enjoy!
Tip : If you are using this app in a single, permanent location, and if you are certain that you know your location's altitude/elevation -- you can find out on topographical maps -- you can disable GPS in the app's settings window, and manually enter your altitude in the "Station altitude" field, which is found just below the three GPS settings. You may want to do this if your "station altitude" indicator is fluctuating too much on the "Barometer" window.
Disclaimer : While the developer has high confidence in the reliability of this app, you should not rely upon it solely in a life-threatening situation.
You may also be interested in visiting my Guam Tropical Storm and Typhoon Warnings, Watches and Updates page at the following URL:
I hope that you have found this tropical storm and hurricane info page helpful, interesting and educational. If so, please consider sharing the URL with your friends. Also, if you see that a serious storm is coming our way, please do remember us in your prayers. We really appreciate it. Thanks so much! The power of God's natural forces on the Earth are awe-inspiring, even if they can sometimes be very dangerous as well.
Kind regards, Bill Kochman
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