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Eye to Eye with Hurricane Claudette

NASA satellites see Hurricane Claudette make landfall with two very different eyes. Terra's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) gets the big picture while the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite peers through the clouds to take a "CAT scan" of the hurricane.

Terra MODIS image of Claudette
Click image to view a larger picture of this Terra MODIS satellite image. Courtesy NASA and Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hurricane Claudette is the first Atlantic hurricane of 2003, making landfall on the middle of the Texas coast midday Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). It's a Category 1 storm, classified as the least destructive on a scale of 1-5. Claudette's winds have reached a maximum of 80 mph, and the NHC predicts five to eight inches of rain will fall as a direct result. These images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite capture the eye just passing over the coastline at 1:00 PM EDT, July 15, 2003.

TRMM image of Hurricane Claudette as it crosses Texas coast TRMM satellite image of Hurricane Claudette. Click image to see CAT scan of the Hurricane. Courtesy: NASA/NASDA

Much, much earlier Tuesday morning, just as Hurricane Claudette touched land, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) took a CAT scan of the storm. The world's only space borne rain radar allows scientists to see through the clouds and to map cloud structure and rain intensity while the storm is over open ocean, well away from conventional land-based radars.

TRMM creates 3-D views of precipitation and height of the rain column inside powerful hurricanes and storms. This perspective helps forecasters predict intensity earlier and identify those storms that will gain strength over a short time. Blue regions show low rates of rainfall, while yellows and reds show high rates of rainfall. Red indicates rain rates in excess of 2 inches per hour.

Different satellites are designed to look at Earth in many different ways, observing different Earth charactieristics from different perspectives. Each one provides a different piece of the puzzle of Earth's weather and climate. To gain better understanding of the planet, scientists must pull together the pieces of the puzzle each satellite provides.

Related Links:
MODIS Home Page
TRMM Home Page
Hurricane Claudette, July 15, 2003

Rani Chohan
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center