Hurricane Kenna, the sixteenth tropical disturbance of the 2002 eastern Pacific hurricane season, explosively intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in less than 48 hours. On Friday, October 25, forecasters were expecting Kenna to make landfall over the western Mexican coast as a Category 4 storm. Kenna was born in the warm tropical waters of the eastern Pacific south of Mexico on October 22 to become the strongest storm to threaten the Americas in 2002.
This Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) overpass from the afternoon of October 23 shows the rain structure inside the rainbands and inner core of Kenna. Red and yellow colors indicate the most intense rains. TRMM shows that the rainfall pattern is highly asymmetric, with most of the rain falling west of the storm center. TRMM also reveals that the tight, compact eye is well formed and is flanked by towering thunderstorm clouds. These towers, which are 16-17 km tall, contain the heaviest rains and act to energize the core of the storm, sustaining winds of nearly 140 mph.
Image courtesy of Jeff Halverson, TRMM Outreach Scientist and Hal Pierce, TRMM Visualizer, both from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Images of Kenna and other 2002 hurricane season storms can be found by visiting the official TRMM website at trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov.