The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite captured this spectacular overpass of Hurricane Fabian at 5:02 AM Atlantic Daylight Time on September 4, 2003. The majestic swirl of Fabian’s clouds is rendered by the Visible and Infrared Scanner (VIRS) on board TRMM. The TRMM satellite has the ability to probe through the clouds, identifying areas of rainfall using its passive microwave sensor (TRMM Microwave Imager or TMI) and active microwave instrument called the Precipitation Radar (PR). The map of rain intensity across Fabian (reds are heaviest rains, on the order of several inches per hour; blues show widespread light rains) was obtained by splicing together the TMI (outer swath) and PR (inner swath) images.
This image shows that Fabian’s rains appear highly asymmetric, with much of the rain concentrated to the northwest of center, in the general direction of the storm’s trajectory. Meanwhile, the eyewall rains in the southeast sector are much weaker and poorly organized. This is consistent with weakening of the storm, which was down to 105 kts sustained at the time of the TRMM overpass.
TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency NASDA.
Image courtesy of Harold Pierce, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, caption by Jeff Halverson