A deep, stationary trough of low pressure parked over the Ohio and Tennessee valleys west of the Appalachians drew a steady stream of tropical moisture, including the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole, up the East Coast. The results were heavy rain and flooding from Florida to the coastal Carolinas up into the Chesapeake Bay region and NASA’s TRMM satellite captured rainfall from the event. Rain first broke out across the U.S. Southeast as a slow moving front approached from the northwest. The front then became stationary along the eastern seaboard, providing a focus for ongoing showers and thunderstorms. In the meantime, an area of low pressure in the northwestern Caribbean began to organize and eventually formed into Tropical Storm Nicole. After passing over Cuba, Nicole weakened and lost its identity off the east coast of Florida, but the moisture from the storm was absorbed into the frontal system, which was already producing heavy rain along the East Coast.
The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (or TRMM) satellite was launched back in November of 1997 with the primary mission of measuring rainfall from space using a combination of passive microwave and active radar sensors. TRMM can also be used to calibrate rainfall estimates from other satellites for expanded coverage.