From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published August 31, 2011 05:06 PM

Irene Rainfall

Hurricane Irene left a trail of devastation and heavy rainfall in its wake from the Caribbean to the U.S. east coast and is now a depression dumping heavy rains in eastern Canada before it heads into the Atlantic. Satellite imagery from NASA and NOAA continue to show the progression of Irene’s remnants today and her massive size and the TRMM satellite gave insight into her weakening condition. Many media outlets across the USA billed Irene as The Storm Of A Lifetime. In reality, however, the storm proved to be more like a ‘washout’ with over 15 inches of rain recorded in some locations along the eastern seaboard. Vermont recorded some of its worst flooding in more than a century but New York City, which saw over 360,000 of its residents evacuated before the storm hit, was not impacted as severely as predicted.


The color-coded image shows rainfall totals from August 22 to August 28, 2011. The heaviest rainfall—more than 240 millimeters or over 9 inches—appears in dark blue. The lightest rainfall—less than 40 millimeters or 1.5 inches—appears in light green. Superimposed on the rainfall totals is a storm track, with maroon indicating the strongest storm intensity, and pink indicating the weakest.

The map, created using data recorded by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite from Aug. 20-29, reveals rainfall in some bands of the now-dissipated 10-day-long storm exceeded 2 inches per hour.

Some rainfall hotspots captured by TRMM include New Jersey, upstate New York and southern Vermont, where catastrophic flooding has left thousands of people without homes. The most rain from Irene — about 8.9 inches — fell in North Carolina, where storm runoff cut through highways and beaches.

TRMM is a satellite that is managed by both NASA and the Japanese Space Agency, and provides inside looks at rainfall rates occurring in tropical weather, including hurricanes. Over the life of Irene, TRMM also calculated cloud heights, which indicated strengthening or weakening of the hurricane. TRMM noticed that whenever "hot towers" or towering high cumulonimbus clouds peaked near the top of the troposphere that Irene would later strengthen, and she did. TRMM also saw heavy rainfall around her eye and outer bands of thunderstorms, sometimes falling at a rate of 2 inches (50 millimeters) per hour.

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Photo:  NASA

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