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The Long Life of Kilo

An incredible 21-day storm offers meteorologists unique insight into weather dynamics.

Meteorologists at NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) project were particularly thrilled to have the chance to gather data from tropical storm Kilo, and the video above explains why. Its 21-day life cycle allowed the GPM Core Observatory to repeatedly pass over the storm, capturing a vast array of images that added up to an unusually comprehensive view of how a storm develops, lives, and dies.

Kilo was also way out in the ocean, so there was little risk to people. It began south of Hawaii and then traveled west across the International Date Line, where its classification changed from hurricane to typhoon.

The eye of a storm is the circle of low pressure around which a storm spins. It’s enclosed by a wall of clouds called the “eye wall,” where a storm’s most damaging winds and intense rainfall occur. One of the most intriguing bits of a storm’s evolution is called an “eye wall replacement,” where a new wall grows outside the current eye wall, and them moves in to break—and eventually replace—it. Multiple satellite passovers increase the odds of seeing exactly how this happens, a rare opportunity Kilo amply offered researchers.