On July 10, 2018, the NOAA-20 polar orbiting satellite captured this true-color image of powerful Typhoon Maria in the East China Sea. The storm battered northern Taiwan with high winds and heavy rain before making landfall on July 11 (local time) in eastern China's Fujian province.
After forming in the western Pacific last week, Maria rapidly intensified to a Category 5 super typhoon, with sustained winds peaking at 160 mph, according to data from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At landfall, the cyclone had weakened to a Category 2-equivalent storm, with winds near 100 mph.
In this image, the ragged, asymmetric shape of Maria's eye indicates that the storm is undergoing a process known as eyewall replacement. In strong tropical cyclones (Category 3 or greater on the Saffir-Simpson scale, or winds above 115 mph), the compact inner eyewall begins to contract to a small enough size (10 to 30 miles across) that the inner eyewall deteriorates and is replaced by a larger, outer eyewall. During eyewall replacement, some of the outer rainbands may organize into an outer ring of thunderstorms that slowly moves inward and robs the inner eyewall of its moisture and momentum. This tends to weaken the storm, but in some cases a storm undergoing eyewall replacement can maintain the same intensity or become even stronger.
The NOAA-20 satellite's VIIRS sensor provides global coverage twice a day with 750-meter resolution across its entire scan. Its daily multi-band imaging capabilities provides high-resolution visible and infrared imagery of high-impact weather events, including tropical cyclones (commonly referred to as typhoons in the western Pacific and hurricanes in the eastern Pacific and Atlantic Ocean).