Incredible imagery of massive Hurricane Marie in the eastern Pacific


Infrared satellite image of Hurricane Marie on Monday afternoon. (NOAA)

While the Atlantic hurricane season has seemed uneventful, the East Pacific has been churning out storms since May, the most recent of which is Hurricane Marie. Marie is the thirteenth named storm and ninth hurricane of the 2014 East Pacific season.

Marie formed as a tropical depression on Thursday, and steadily ballooned into a category 5 hurricane with winds of 160 mph by Sunday.

While Hurricane Marie has decreased slightly in intensity since then, it remains a massive, powerful hurricane covering a huge area of the Eastern Pacific. Marie’s gale-force winds extend as far as 310 miles from the center, covering an area of nearly 730,000 square miles — a larger area than Alaska, the largest state in the U.S. Hurricane Marie, which is not going to impact land, had sustained winds of 145 mph on Monday morning.

Related: Tropical Storm Cristobal expected to strengthen to Atlantic third hurricane in 2014

The GOES-14 satellite is in rapid scan mode, snapping an image of Hurricane Marie every minute, leading to some very impressive animations from the massive storm:

Rapid scan visible satellite imagery from GOES-14. (Dan Lindsey/NOAA)
Rapid scan visible satellite imagery from GOES-14. (Dan Lindsey/NOAA)

Infrared satellite loops show an intense hurricane with strong thunderstorm activity around well-defined eye:

Infrared satellite animation of Hurricane Marie on Sunday
Infrared satellite animation of Hurricane Marie on Sunday. (NOAA modified by CWG)

Early morning and late evening are always the best times to check out hurricanes on visible satellite, since the sun’s angle casts shadows across the top of the clouds, highlighting the incredible structure:


Visible satellite loop of Hurricane Marie on Sunday. (Dan Lindsey/NOAA)

The sun rises on Hurricane Marie on Monday morning. (NOAA via Brian McNoldy)


Track history and forecast for Hurricane Marie. Colors represent intensity, with red being a category five. (Weather Underground)

So far in 2014, the East Pacific has seen four category 4 hurricanes, and one category 5 (Marie). According to our tropical expert Brian McNoldy, the eastern Pacific ocean’s tropical storm activity is reminiscent of the kind of numbers seen during a full-fledged El Niño, which we are not yet experiencing in 2014. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy, which is a measure of the season’s activity to date, is 172 percent of average so far in the East Pacific in 2014. Compare that to the Atlantic’s 66 percent.

The season started out gangbusters with two major hurricanesby mid-June.  “With Hurricanes Amanda and Cristina reaching category 4 status, this is the first time there have been two category 4 hurricanes through June in the eastern North Pacific basin since the beginning of the satellite era in 1966,” the National Hurricane Center wrote. “Prior to Cristina, the earliest second category 4 hurricane was Hurricane Elida in 1984, which reached that threshold on July 1.”

Diving into the hurricane records in the east Pacific, McNoldy found that Hurricane Marie is kind of rare for the basin. “I could find just eight category 5 hurricanes in the East Pacific in the records (1949-2013),” McNoldy wrote in an email. “The most recent was Celia in June 2010.” Looking further back, 2002 seems to be the most intense year for the East Pacific, with three of the eight storms that year reaching category 5 status.

The National Hurricane Center expects Marie to steadily weaken over the next five days as it tracks northwest into cooler Pacific waters.

Angela Fritz is an atmospheric scientist and The Post's deputy weather editor.
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Angela Fritz · August 25