April 02, 2002
This infrared image taken last week from a GOES satellite positioned 22,000 miles (35,200 km) above the Indian Ocean, shows Cyclone Ikala, which appears to be bearing down on Madagascar. Though we generally think of hurricanes and typhoons as summer or autumn storms, Southern Hemisphere tropical storms occur between February and May. "Cyclone" is the word used for hurricanes that form in the Indian Ocean. Although Ikala's peak winds were 125 miles (200 km per hour) per hour last week, the storm lost much of its punch after interacting with a cold front advancing from the south. When light levels are low, at night or during the early morning or late afternoon hours, the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum is particularly useful for imaging storms and cloud features.