Latest News and Updates

January 11, 2017
TMPA rainfall anomalies for the one month period ending on 10 January 2017
California, which has long been suffering through a strong, multi-year drought, is finally beginning to see some much needed relief as a result of a recent series of storms that are part of a weather pattern known as the “Pineapple Express.” The Pineapple Express is known as an atmospheric river. A large, slow-moving low pressure center off of the West Coast taps into tropical moisture originating from as far south as the Hawaiian Islands. This moisture is then channeled northeast by the subtropical jet steam towards the West Coast where the topography aids in squeezing out the moisture as air flows over the mountain ranges. Though these rains are certainly welcome and very much needed, they have also led to flooding and mudslides. The first storm in the series arrived in the middle of last week and brought rain to northern and central California. The next storm occurred over the weekend and brought heavy rains again to mostly northern and central California although southern California also received significant amounts. This event lead to widespread flooding, down trees and mudslides, especially in the Sierra Nevada where hurricane force winds occurred and Interstate 80 was closed due to a massive mudslide. Blizzard, winter storm, high wind, and flood warnings are already in effect as the third plume of moisture in this series is already making its way through the interior part of the state where several feet of snow are expected in the Sierra Nevada. The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite (known as TRMM) was launched into service back in November of 1997. It was designed to measure rainfall over the global Tropics using both passive and active sensors, including the first and at the time only precipitation radar in space. With its combination of passive microwave and active radar sensors, TRMM was used to calibrate rainfall estimates from other satellites to expand its coverage. The TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has been used to monitor rainfall over the global Tropics for many years. By subtracting the long-term average rainfall or climatology, rainfall anomalies can be constructed to show deviations from the normal pattern.


October 12, 2016
IMERG total of hurricane matthew.
In this animation Hurricane Matthew travels up the east coast from Florida to the Carolinas. On October 8, 2016 Matthew (still a category 2 hurricane) dumps massive amounts of rain throughout the southeast dousing North and South Carolina. GPM then flies over the area revealing precipitation rates on the ground. As we zoom in closer, GPM's DPR sensor reveals a curtain of 3D rain rates within the massive weather system. To download: NASA SVS Hurricane Matthew dropped a lot of rain, caused flooding and deaths in the state of North Carolina. Flooding is still widespread in North Carolina.  Some rivers in North Carolina such as the Tar and the Neuse Rivers were still rising on Oct. 12. At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland a rainfall analysis was accomplished using data from NASA's Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG). The GPM or Global Precipitation Measurement mission is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA. The Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) is a unified U.S. algorithm that provides a multi-satellite precipitation product. IMERG is run twice in near-real time with the “Early” multi-satellite product being created at about 4 hours after observation time and a “Late” multi-satellite product provided at about 12 hours after observation time.


October 9, 2016
 On October 9, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of floodwaters laden with sediment pouring out from several rivers in North Carolina and South Carolina.
Though its winds had weakened as it moved north, Hurricane Matthew delivered record-breaking rainfall to parts of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. In many coastal areas, the storm dumped well over 12 inches (30 centimeters) of water. On October 9, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of floodwaters laden with sediment pouring out from several rivers in North Carolina and South Carolina. Colored dissolved organic matter may have contributed to the dark color of the river water as it spilled into the Atlantic Ocean. The rain combined with intense storm surges left many communities swamped and reeling.  At least 10 people died in North Carolina; several of them were swept away in cars while attempting to drive. Authorities have rescued thousands of other people from homes and cars. More than 1,500 people were stranded in Lumberton, North Carolina, according to news reports.


October 5, 2016
NASA-Produced Maps Help Gauge Italy Earthquake Damage
NASA/JPL-Caltech-produced maps of damage in and around Amatrice, Italy, from the Aug. 2016, quake, based on ground surface changes detected by Italian and Japanese radar satellites. The color variations from yellow to red indicate increasingly more significant ground surface change. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA/ASI/European Union - Joint Research Centre/Google Earth A NASA-funded program provided valuable information for responders and groups supporting the recovery efforts for the Aug. 24, 2016, magnitude 6.2 earthquake that struck central Italy. The earthquake caused significant loss of life and property damage in the town of Amatrice. To assist in the disaster response efforts, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech, both in Pasadena, California, obtained and used radar imagery of the earthquake's hardest-hit region to discriminate areas of damage from that event. The views indicate the extent of damage caused by the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks in and around Amatrice, based on changes to the ground surface detected by radar. The color variations from yellow to red indicate increasingly more significant ground surface change. The damage maps were created from data obtained before and after the earthquake by satellites belonging to the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The radar-derived damage maps compare well with a damage map produced by the European Commission Copernicus Emergency Management Service based upon visual inspection of high-resolution, pre-earthquake aerial photographs and post-earthquake satellite optical imagery, and provide broader geographic coverage of the earthquake's impact in the region.


September 23, 2016
VIIRS Day-night band image of Puerto Rico acquired after the blackouts at at 2:31 a.m. local time (06:31 Universal Time) on September 22, 2016.
VIIRS Day-night band image of Puerto Rico acquired at 2:50 a.m. local time (06:50 Universal Time) on September 21, 2016. VIIRS Day-night band image of Puerto Rico acquired after the blackouts at at 2:31 a.m. local time (06:31 Universal Time) on September 22, 2016. Late on September 21, 2016, a fire at a power plant substation in southern Puerto Rico triggered a cascade of problems across the island’s aging electrical grid. The event knocked out power to nearly 1.5 million customers.


September 21, 2016
Soberanes wildfires
False-color image from the Landsat 8 OLI that and combines shortwave infrared, near-infrared, and green light to provide a clear view of the charred landscape (dark red).  Natural color image from Landsat 8. In late July 2016, an illegal campfire gave rise to the Soberanes fire that grew near the California coast between Monterey and Big Sur. The wildfire continued burning in the Los Padres National Forest through August. As of late September, it was still not fully contained.