Image of the Day: NASA Captures Sandy's Eye
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October 30, 2012

Image of the Day: NASA Captures Sandy's Eye

 

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The image was taken on Sunday, the day before Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, by the radar on NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite. It reveals that Sandy had a distinctive eyewall, surrounding the relatively calm eye at the center of the storm. The TRMM satellite can measure rainfall rates and cloud heights in tropical cyclones, and was used to create an image to look into Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 28, 2012. Owen Kelly of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. created this image of Hurricane Sandy using TRMM data.

The TRMM-observed properties of Hurricane Sandy's eyewall are evidence of remarkable vigor. Most hurricanes only have well-formed and compact eyewalls at category 3 strength or higher. Sandy was not only barely a category 1 hurricane, but Sandy was also experiencing strong wind shear, Sandy was going over ocean typically too cold to form hurricanes, and Sandy had been limping along as a marginal hurricane for several days.

"With infrared satellite observations used in imagery one can speculate about what the sort of convective (rising air that form the thunderstorms that make up a tropical cyclone) storms are developing under the hurricane's cloud tops, but Sandy was sneaking up the East Coast too far out at sea for land-based radars to provide definitive observations of the rain regions inside of the hurricane's clouds," Kelley said. The radar on the TRMM satellite could provide this missing information during this overflight of Hurricane Sandy.

The TRMM satellite also showed that the super-sized rainband that extended to the west and north of the center did contain vigorous storm cells, as indicated by the red regions of radar reflectivity in excess of 40 dBZ. This rainband was expected to lash the coast well before the hurricane's center make landfall. Even further west, at the upper left corner of the image, one can see two small storm cells.

These storm cells are the southern-most tip of the independent weather system that is coming across the United States and that is expected to merge and possibly reinvigorate the remnants of Hurricane Sandy after Sandy made landfall.

NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua spacecraft captured the infrared image below of Hurricane Sandy, another weather front to the west and cold air coming down from Canada at 2:17 p.m. EDT Oct. 29. The hurricane center is the darkest purple area in the Atlantic just to the east of the New Jersey coast, reflecting Sandy's areas of heaviest rainfall. 

 

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The Daily Galaxy via Owen Kelley at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Image at bottom of page courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

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