From: Roger Greenway, ENN
Published August 29, 2011 07:49 AM

NASA Satellite Shows Irene's heavy rains

NASA satellites have been eying the weather for decades now, improving our ability to forecast the weather. Nowhere has this been more important than in forecasting hurricanes and other forms of severe weather. The weather satellites also help us see what is happening as it happens, so we can understand where the heaviest rains and winds are occurring.

After pounding North Carolina and Virginia on Aug. 27, Hurricane Irene made a second landfall near Little Egg Inlet, N.J., early Sunday morning, Aug. 28, still as a category one hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kilometers per hour). It then weakened slightly before making a third landfall over Coney Island, N.Y. as a 65-mph (100-kilometer-per-hour) tropical storm. Irene's heavy rains, winds and storm surge are causing widespread problems throughout the U.S. mid-Atlantic and Northeast. 

This infrared image of Irene was taken by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua spacecraft at 2:47 a.m. EDT on Aug. 27, a few hours before the storm's second landfall in New Jersey. 

The AIRS data create an accurate 3-D map of atmospheric temperature, water vapor and clouds, data that are useful to forecasters. The image shows the temperature of Irene's cloud tops or the surface of Earth in cloud-free regions. The coldest cloud-top temperatures appear in purple, indicating towering cold clouds and heavy precipitation. The infrared signal of AIRS does not penetrate through clouds. Where there are no clouds, AIRS reads the infrared signal from the surface of the ocean waters, revealing warmer temperatures in orange and red.

Image credit: NASA/JPL.

More on NASA's hurricane research and Irene is online at NASA's hurricanes/tropical cyclones website: and the JPL TC-IDEAS hurricane website:

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