Three Consecutive Swaths of Data, Three Different Hurricanes

  • Released Friday, September 8th, 2017
  • Updated Wednesday, November 15th, 2023 at 12:38AM

It is extremely rare for a hurricane to show up in three consecutive swaths of data acquired by the same satellite. On September 7, 2017, hurricanes Katia (left, Category 1), Irma (center, Category 5), and Jose (right, Category 3) lined up across the Atlantic basin. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onboard NASA’s Terra satellite acquired each image around 11:00 AM local time. The Atlantic hasn’t had three hurricanes at once since 2010 when hurricanes Igor, Julia, and Karl marched across the tropics—storms that also begin with letters I, J, and K.

On September 5, Irma was labeled as an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 storm. Irma passed north of the Dominican Republic on September 7. This historically intense hurricane, which maintained winds of 185 miles per hour longer than any storm ever recorded on Earth, made landfall on Cuba’s Camaguey archipelago as a Category 5 hurricane on September 8, again at Cudjoe Key in lower Florida Keys as a Category 4 on September 10, and a final time in Florida later that day on Marco Island as a Category 3 storm. On September 6, Katia had strengthened over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and was upgraded from tropical storm to Category 1 hurricane status. Katia shortly became a Category 2 storm on September 8, making landfall later that evening as a Category 1 storm north of Tecolutla, Mexico. Jose became a Category 1 storm on September 6 and rapidly intensified into a Category 4 storm by September 8. It remained a Category 4 storm until September 10. As of September 12, Jose is a Category 1 storm. The National Hurricane Center predicts that the storm will not make landfall in the next five days.



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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


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