CloudSat overpassed Hurricane Laura on August 25, 2020 @ 1940 UTC as the storm had just strengthened into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Laura contained estimated sustained winds of 71 knots (82 mph) with a minimum pressure of 988 mb.
CloudSat overpassed through the center of the intensifying storm (Figure 1). The small star in Figure 1 denotes the National Hurricane Center's (NHC) estimated storm center point. The CloudSat overpass reveals the vertical extent of the curved convection band wrapping around the eastern side of the storm, the dense cirrus canopy and the large convective core south of the system (Figure 2). The tall convective core near the 19:42 UTC time (Figure 1 and 2) is estimated at over 17 km in height. Areas of high reflectivity in the CloudSat overpass (deep red and pink colors) extend well above 15 km in height revealing large amounts of water being updrafted high into the atmosphere. Attenuation is evident in the deeper convective cloud tops due to a lack of Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) signal of water (ice) particles larger than 3 mm in diameter. CloudSat also "uncovers" the cumulus convection underneath the cirrus clouds (Figure 2) that isn't seen by visible satellite imagery.
CloudSat overpasses of hurricanes (tropical cyclones) are not uncommon but overpassing through the storm center is indeed a rare evident. There are under 50 cases of CloudSat overpassing through the center of hurricane strength systems.
The IR imagery in Figure 3 reveals the cold cloud tops throughout the system, the red and yellow colors contains estimate cloud top temperatures of around -70-80C respectively.
GOES-16 geostationary satellite imagery captured the visible image taken at the same time as the CloudSat overpass (the blue line on Figure 1). Figure 2 depicts the CloudSat 1B-CPR imagery of the overpass. Figure 3 shows the 4km Remapped Color Enhanced Infrared (IR) Imagery (courtesy of RAMMB). Figure 4 is a time lapsed animation combining GOES-16 imagery and the CloudSat overpass and Figure 5 merges GOES and CloudSat imagery into a 2D image (courtesy of JPL).
Figure 1. GOES-16 imagery with CloudSat track and UTC time (blue line) of Hurricane Laura.
Figure 2. CloudSat 1B-CPR imagery of Hurricane Laura.