TRMM Sees Tornado Spawning Thunderstorms

TRMM sees tornado spawning thunderstorms

In the United States tornadoes develop most often in the spring when warm moist unstable air accompanies strong fronts and fluctuating upper-air systems. There is a also a slight increase in tornado activity in late October and November. Tornadoes form least often in December and January so the tornadoes that occurred yesterday over the south-eastern United States were unusual. The TRMM satellite was flying over on December 10, 2012 at 1743 UTC (12:43 PM EST) and captured data showing tornado spawning thunderstorms within a frontal system moving through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida. This image shows a rainfall analysis from data captured with TRMM's Microwave Imager (TMI) and Precipitation Radar (PR) instruments. TRMM's Precipitation Radar (PR) found rain falling at a rate of over 77 mm/hr (~3 inches) in a few of these powerful storms. The locations of some of the tornadoes reported are shown overlaid in red.

TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.

Click here to see a simulated 3-D Flyby around this line of thunderstorms using data from TRMM's Precipitation Radar (PR) instrument.