Satellite Shows The Scale of Texas' Recent Deluge

Seen from space, Texas got walloped by rain.EXPAND
Seen from space, Texas got walloped by rain.
NASA/JAXA/SSAI, Hal Pierce

Every three hours, a satellite called the Global Precipitation Measurement Observatory records the rain and snow that falls, worldwide. This week the big precipitation story is Texas.

From April 15 to 19, East Texas received 6 to 12 inches, with similar totals for eastern Oklahoma. Houston tallied the highest rainfall, at nearly 15 inches. "The main culprit was a stationary upper-level low pressure center spinning over the Central Rockies that had become detached from the main jet stream, causing it to remain in place," NASA said in a release.

The satellite, run by NASA and  the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is the anchor of a network of sats devoted to measuring the planet's water cycle. Parked 253 miles above Earth in an orbit inclined 65-degrees to the equator, the GPM Observatory can spot precipitation from the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic Circle at different times of day. It uses passive microwaves and radar that can generate 3D profiles of rain and snow as it falls. These tallies are combined with other sats to come up with accurate totals.   

And the rain will continue. "The system that brought widespread heavy precipitation flooding to portions of the southern and central plains will slowly track to the east through the end of the week," NASA said.


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