1 Apr 2015

This is what a 160mph super typhoon looks like from space

When it comes to weather, there are times when only the view from space can illustrate just how amazing atmospheric phenomena can be.

This can certainly be said for the awesome view of Super Typhoon Maysak, taken from aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday.

Destructive 160mph winds

The very powerful storm is currently roaming the tropical waters of the north west Pacific Ocean, with cloud swirling around its clearly visible eye – the central point around which the most destructive winds rotate.

Super Typhoon Maysak is equivalent to a category five hurricane, packing steady winds of around 160mph and gusts of 195mph at the time the photograph above was taken.

Eye wall

This zoomed in picture shows the intricate detail of the centre of the storm – known as the eye, for obvious reasons.


This is the central point around which all of the air in the storm rotates inwards and upwards at the surface and spreads outwards at top, creating a highly efficient weather machine.

In the centre of the eye where there is no cloud, the winds are actually calm as the air is gently sinking.

However, where the cloud begins at the periphery of the eye – known as the eye wall – is where the most destructive and damaging winds are found.

The strongest 160mph winds only extend a few tens of miles from the storm’s centre, but gales or severe gales will extend for a few hundred miles.

Spiralling cloud

The image below clearly shows the organised structure of the storm, indicative of the vast amounts of energy it is harnessing to keep going.


If you look closely, the striations in the cloud show that the air is spiralling around the centre of Maysak in an anti-clockwise direction – as would be expected in the northern hemisphere.

Thin, smooth wispy looking clouds are prevalent away from the eye of the storm – a signal of air from the surface rising up through the eye and then spreading outwards.

The lumpy, rugged clouds are indicated of cumulonimbus clouds, generating copious amounts of rain and lightning, where air is rapidly rising closer to the storm’s eye.

Heading towards the Philippines

Super Typhoon Maysak is currently expected to head towards the northern Philippines, arriving late on Saturday, local time.

By this point, the storm will have weakened significantly, with steady winds of 90mph.


Nevertheless, it will still have the potential to cause damage and disruption when it passes over northern Luzon.

Torrential rain and a storm surge could cause some flooding inland, as well as along the coasts, with strong winds likely to damage buildings and infrastructure.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on the progress of the Super Typhoon Maysak in the coming days and posting updates on Twitter – @liamdutton

Images: ESA/Nasa

Tweets by @liamdutton