What did NASA find in Typhoon Ompong's eye?

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Typhoon Ompong satellite image as of 10:50 A.M., September 14.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 14) — Images from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) revealed that Typhoon Ompong is packing "powerful storms" surrounding its eye.

Ompong, with international name Mangkhut, was analyzed by NASA's MODIS instrument aboard its Aqua satellite.

"NASA's Aqua satellite provided an infrared look at powerful Super Typhoon Mangkhut early on Sept. 13 that revealed a large eye surrounded by a large area of powerful storms," Rob Gutro of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center said.

NASA-Rainbands-Ompong_CNNPH.jpg On September 13, the MODIS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite looked at Super Typhoon Mangkhut in infrared light as it was approaching the Philippines.  

He added convection, or the rising air forming thunderstorms in a tropical cyclone, has deepened near the eye.

Colder cloud tops have also formed near its eye, Gutro said. This indicates the presence of strong storms.

"The higher and colder the cloud top, the stronger the storm and the greater potential for heavier rainfall," he explained.

The U.S. astronomical body also found that Ompong's eye was 27 nautical miles (50 kilometers) wide, which can cover the entirety of Metro Manila.

How strong is Ompong?

With its swath of storms barreling towards the country, Dr. Mahar Lagmay of the University of the Philippines believes Ompong can only been trumped by Typhoon Yolanda, if the comparison was based on sustained winds.

"Yes. It's quite strong, because based on the data of PAG-ASA on sustained winds comparing it to Milenyo, Glenda which we experienced, and comparing it to Yolanda, only Yolanda beats it in terms of sustained winds," Lagmay said in CNN Philippines' The Source.

Yolanda hit the country in 2013, packing winds as strong as 315 kilometers per hour (kph) - and it was the strongest typhoon to ever hit the country to date. Ompong, on the other hand, has  205 kph sustained winds.

 

In terms of size, however, Lagman believes Ompong is much larger than Yolanda, with a radius of almost 500 kilometers based on measurements by Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards).

But Lagmay reminded it is not the typhoon itself which poses a threat, but the associated hazards: the strong winds which can topple trees and tear off roofs, and the heavy rainfall which can lead to floods.