Five Beautiful GIFs of Hurricane Arthur Show Nature's Terrifying Power

When Hurricane Arthur made landfall on the North Carolina coast last weekend, it was the strongest hurricane to strike the United States since Hurricane Ike hit Texas in 2008. The storm was downright impressive visually, and these gifs document the latent beauty of nature's power.


5) Arthur's Streamlines

The top image shows the wind movement in the hurricane using streamlines shown using "earth" on nullschool.net. The website is actually really interesting, offering users the ability to overlay atmospheric winds (from the upper-levels to the surface), temperatures, moisture, and pressure to show the true interconnectivity of the global atmosphere. Keeping track of the streamlines flowing into Hurricane Arthur at its strongest certainly didn't disappoint.


4) Infrared Satellite at Landfall

Five Beautiful GIFs of Hurricane Arthur Show Nature's Terrifying Power

Weather satellites can use infrared technology to look at the height and temperature of clouds to give us a good idea of where strong thunderstorm activity exists. Different color tables highlight different features, and the above image from GOES during Arthur's landfall. Cooler colors indicate low-topped, warm clouds (or the surface itself), and the warmer colors indicate high-topped cold clouds indicative of deep thunderstorm activity.


3) Life and Death

Five Beautiful GIFs of Hurricane Arthur Show Nature's Terrifying Power

Weather Underground maintains a gif of each tropical cyclone that comes close enough to the United States that weather radar sites can see it. The fact that Arthur both formed and died so close to land means that the network of weather radars documented its entire life cycle.

These images, while fast and low-resolution, are pretty interesting to watch. Here are some more loops from Hurricane Isaac (2012), Hurricane Irene (2011), and even Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.


2) High-Res Rapid Updating Radar Imagery

Five Beautiful GIFs of Hurricane Arthur Show Nature's Terrifying Power

Hurricane Arthur was the first tropical system to strike the United States after the widespread implementation of SAILS and AVSET, two programming tweaks to existing radar software that give us low-level radar sweeps more than 50% faster than normal. The high-resolution radar images combined with the rapid updates provided a spectacular view of Arthur as it cut across coastal North Carolina, especially since it came so close to the Morehead City radar site.


1) 3-D View of Arthur's Core

Five Beautiful GIFs of Hurricane Arthur Show Nature's Terrifying Power

Another benefit of having high-resolution radar data, along with powerful radar software, is the ability to take a look at a storm in 3-D. I often use this feature during severe weather season to look at the inside of hailstorms and supercells that produce tornadoes, and it's also useful (and downright cool) to use during hurricanes to see what its structure would look like if you stripped away the clouds and looked at it from a bird's-eye view.

This 3-D image of Arthur is from roughly the same time as the radar image seen in #3 on this list. We can clearly see the spiraling bands circulating around the center, along with the deep convection in the eye wall and the clear eye at the center of the low.

[Images via earth, GOES, Wunderground, and Gibson Ridge]