On October 2, 2016 at approximately 4:50 a.m. EST (0950 UTC), NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core observatory satellite flew over Hurricane Matthew. At that time, Matthew had maximum sustained winds of 150 mph making it a strong category 4 hurricane.
The GPM Core Observatory carries two instruments that show the location and intensity of rain and snow, which defines a crucial part of the storm structure – and how it will behave. The GPM Microwave Imager sees through the tops of clouds to observe how much and where precipitation occurs, and the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar observes precise details of precipitation in 3-dimensions.
This animation starts with an overview of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. As the camera slowly pushes in, Hurricane Matthew begins to form. By the morning of October 2nd, 2016 Matthew is a Category 4 Hurricane immediately south of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Time then slows down to see GPM's GPROF swath reveal ground precipitation from the hurricane. Now, with the camera closer in the view rotates to reveal a curtain of 3-dimensional radar data from GPM's DPR instrument. DPR shows us the 3-D structure of the hurricane's precipitation rates. Areas in blue and purple are frozen precipitation, whereas areas in greens and reds are liquid precipitation.
GPM data is part of the toolbox of satellite data used by forecasters and scientists to understand how storms behave. GPM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Current and future data sets are available with free registration to users from NASA Goddard's Precipitation Processing Center website.