- Cross-Section of Heavy Rains in Hurricane Malaka
The attached image is a vertical "slice" through the middle of a major hurricane spinning near Japan on Sept 23, 2010. The color patterns represent the areas of rain, the heaviest is yellow and red. Notice the towering thunderstorm rains extend up to nearly 10 miles into the atmosphere. The 50 mile wide "eye" of the hurricane, in the center of the image, is basically dry except near the very top of the hurricane where some rain is spilling over from the side.
see next page for details from NASA
From NASA: "Towering thunderstorms and heavy rainfall are two things that NASA's CloudSat satellite saw as it passed over Typhoon Malakas, and those two factors confirm a strong storm. NASA's CloudSat satellite's Cloud Profiling Radar can basically slice a tropical cyclone in half and take a look at its clouds and rainfall, and that's what it did when it passed over Typhoon Malakas on Sept. 23.
CloudSat flew over Typhoon Malakas during the daytime on Sept. 23. At that time, Malakas had a minimum central pressure of 965 millibars, maximum winds of around 115 mph (100 knots), and a storm width (winds greater than or equal to 57 mph or 50 knots) of around 150 nautical miles.
Dr. Matt Rogers, a research scientist who works on the CloudSat team at the Dept. of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo. noted that the " CloudSat overpass of the typhoon occurred around 4:09 GMT (12:09 a.m. EDT/1:09 p.m. local time/Japan), and radar imagery of the typhoon indicated strong convection on either side of the storm eyewall, with maximum cloud top heights around 9.3 miles (15 kilometers) in the southern quadrant of the storm, and approaching 10 miles (16 km) in the northern quadrant."
A strong convective (rapidly rising air that creates the thunderstorms that power a tropical cyclone) cell dominates the northern quadrant of the storm, while several smaller convective cells combine to make up the southern quadrant, according to the CloudSat overpass.
"The presence of heavy rainfall near the storm core causes radar attenuation - a condition that occurs when the vast amount of water present in the storm scatters or absorbs all available radar energy, leaving no signal to return to the satellite," Rogers said."