September 11, 2012 - Tropical Storm Leslie (12L) and Hurricane Michael (13L) in the Atlantic Ocean

Tropical Storm Leslie (12L) and Hurricane Michael (13L) in the Atlantic Ocean

In early September, 2012 a pair of tropical storms were spinning in the north central Atlantic Ocean, and at the same time were being viewed by two NASA satellites flying overhead. On September 7, at 1525 UTC (11:25 a.m. EDT) the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on both Aqua and Terra acquired true-color images of Tropical Storm Leslie and Hurricane Michael. When combined, the images show the big picture of the stormy Atlantic Ocean.

Tropical Storm Leslie is the larger and weaker storm in the west. Although the convection bands span a larger distance, there is no well-defined eye. To the east the compact Hurricane Michael sports a distinct eye, and the bands are compact and apostrophe-shaped. Michael gives the impression of a storm spinning like a top when viewed at satellite height, 705 km (438 mi) above the surface of the ocean.

At 1500 UTC (11:00 a.m. EDT) Tropical Storm Leslie was sitting stationary about 410 mi (660 km SSE) of Bermuda, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 km/h). The storm had reached hurricane strength two days earlier, causing concerns that the large, slow moving hurricane could cause significant damage to the islands. On September 7, however, Leslie stalled and weakened to Tropical Storm strength. It skirted Bermuda on September 9, and then turned on a course towards Newfoundland.

At 2100 UTC (5:00 p.m. EDT) on September 10, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Tropical Storm Leslie appeared to be slowly losing tropical characteristics, but warned that little loss in intensity is expected before the storm makes landfall in southeastern Newfoundland early on September 11.

On September 5, Michael intensified to hurricane strength around 11:00 p.m. EDT, according to the NHC, and by 5:00 a.m. EST the next morning had become the first Category 3 hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 km/h). Near the time this image was captured on September 7, Hurricane Michael was located about 930 mi (1495 km) west southwest of the Azores with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (165 km/h), bringing to a strong Category 2 status.

At 5:00 p.m. on September 10, the NHC reported that Hurricane Michael had turned towards the northwest and had slowly weakened, with the maximum sustained winds keeping it a weak Category 1 hurricane at 75 mph (120 km/h). Wind shear and decreasing sea surface temperatures are expected to take a heavy toll on the storm, and Michael is expected to become a frontal wave by September 12. No hazards are predicted for land.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 9/7/2012
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC