Severe Storm

Cyclone Idai on 13 March 2019 west of Madagascar and heading for Mozambique. Image: ESA.

Definition

Storms are generally classified as a meteorological hazard,  caused by short-lived, micro- to meso-scale extreme weather and atmospheric conditions that last from minutes to days (EM-DAT).

Facts and figures

There are several different types of storms distinguished by the strength and characteristics of atmospheric disturbances:

  • Convective/local storm: A type of meteorological hazard generated by the heating of air and the availability of moist and unstable air masses. Convective storms range from localized thunderstorms (with heavy rain and/or hail, lightning, high winds, tornadoes) to meso-scale, multi-day events.
  • Sandstorm, dust storm: Strong winds carry particles of sand aloft, but generally confined to less than 50 feet (15 metres), especially common in arid and semi-arid environments. A dust storm is also characterised by strong winds but carries smaller particles of dust rather than sand over an extensive area.
  • Tornado: A violently rotating column of air that reaches the ground or open water (waterspout).
  • Lightning: A high-voltage, visible electrical discharge produced by a thunderstorm and followed by the sound of thunder.
  • Winter storm, blizzard: A low pressure system in winter months with significant accumulations of snow, freezing rain, sleet or ice. A blizzard is a severe snow storm with winds exceeding 35 mph (56 km/h) for three or more hours, producing reduced visibility (less than .25 mile (400 m).
  • Orographic storm (strong wind): Differences in air pressure resulting in the horizontal motion of air. The greater the difference in pressure, the stronger the wind. Wind moves from high pressure toward low pressure.  
  • Extratropical storm: A type of low-pressure cyclonic system in the middle and high latitudes (also called mid-latitude cyclone) that primarily gets its energy from the horizontal temperature contrasts (fronts) in the atmosphere.
  • Tropical storms: A tropical cyclone originates over tropical or subtropical waters. It is characterised by a warm-core, non-frontal synoptic-scale cyclone with a low pressure centre, spiral rainbands and strong winds. Depending on their location, tropical cyclones are referred to as hurricanes (Atlantic, Northeast Pacific), typhoons (Northwest Pacific), or cyclones (South Pacific and Indian Ocean) (UNDRR, Sendai Framework).

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On November 4, 2008, NASA announced that the satellite had arrived at Vandenberg aboard a C-5 Galaxy military transport aircraft. Installation of the payload fairing took place January 27, 2009; second stage propellant was loaded on January 31.

Several attempts were made to conduct the launch. The first attempt was scrubbed after a failure was detected in a launch pad gaseous nitrogen pressurization system. The second attempt was scrubbed after the failure of a payload fairing air conditioning compressor, which is also part of the ground support equipment at the launch pad.

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METOP (Meteorological Operational) is Europe's first polar-orbiting operational meteorological satellite. It is the European contribution to the Initial Joint Polar System (IJPS), a co-operative agreement between Eumetsat and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide data for climate and environmental monitoring and improved weather forecasting. The first MetOp-A satellite was launched in 2006, with the other two following at five-year intervals. In total, the programmes will be operational for at least 14 years.
Launched in October 2006, MetOp-A, the first satellite in the series of three, replaced one of two satellite services operated by NOAA and is Europe’s first polar-orbiting satellite dedicated to operational meteorology. Once operational in orbit, responsibilities for the meteorological satellite services have been shared between the USA and Europe.
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Today, weather satellites scan the whole Earth, meaning not a single tropical storm or severe weather system goes undetected. The early detection and warnings they provide have saved thousands of lives.
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Launch date:
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Aqua, Latin for water, is a NASA Earth Science satellite mission named for the large amount of information that the mission is collecting about the Earth's water cycle. The Aqua mission is a part of the NASA-centered international Earth Observin System (EOS). Aqua was formerly named EOS PM, signifying its afternoon equatorial crossing time.
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Launch date:
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TRMM was a research satellite in operation from 1997 to 2015, designed to improve our understanding of the distribution and variability of precipitation within the tropics as part of the water cycle in the current climate system. By covering the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Earth, TRMM provided much needed information on rainfall and its associated heat release that helps to power the global atmospheric circulation that shapes both weather and climate.

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Noticias

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Southern Africa is exposed to hydrometeorological, geological, coastal and biological hazards.  The region has been hard hit by droughts in recent years. Tropical cyclone Idai triggered massive floods in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe in March 2019, and in 2020 several countries experience a severe locust outbreak.  And unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to impact all countries in this region.

To continue efforts to promote the use of space technologies in disaster risk management, emergency response and recovery efforts, UN-SPIDER and the Centre for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces of the University of Bonn (ZFL) joined forces to organize the UN-SPIDER / ZFL Regional Virtual Expert Meeting for Southern Africa "Space-based Solutions for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response" from 13 to 15 July 2021. This regional expert meeting contributed to the efforts conducted by UN-SPIDER on disaster risk reduction, preparedness, early warning systems, disaster response... read more

Publishing date: 20/07/2021

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