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NASA's TRMM Satellite Calculates Hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo Rainfall


The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission or TRMM satellite can estimate rainfall rates from its orbit in space and that data is used to create a rainfall analysis and calculate total rainfall for weather events in the tropics. NASA used TRMM and other satellite data to calculate rainfall from Atlantic hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo.

Tropical Storm Fay battered Bermuda on October 12, 2014 and became a hurricane after passing the island.  The following Friday powerful Hurricane Gonzalo passed  directly over the island on Friday October 17, 2014 causing flooding and damage to many structures.

This rainfall analysis showed that Gonzalo generated several areas over the Atlantic Ocean where rainfall totals topped 12 inches (red). Fay's maximum rainfall appeared between 4 and 8 inches (green).

Image Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce

The remnants of Gonzalo also pounded the British Islands with winds exceeding 70 mph causing the death of at least one person.

An analysis of rainfall was conducted on Fay and Gonzalo as they moved through the central Atlantic Ocean and over Bermuda. The analysis was based on near real time TRMM-based precipitation estimates (TMPA) that were produced by merging data from several satellites.

The analysis showed that Gonzalo generated several areas over the Atlantic Ocean where rainfall totals topped 12 inches (300 mm). Fay's maximum rainfall was between 4 and 8 inches (100-200 mm).

The rainfall estimates have been developed at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland by the precipitation research team. The type of data used in this analysis is expected to be superseded by a Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission product in late 2014.

TRMM is managed by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. For more information about TRMM, visit: For more information about GPM, visit:

Hal Pierce
SSAI/NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Rob Gutro | Eurek Alert!
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