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NASA's TRMM Satellite Sees Typhoon Morakot's Massive Flooding in Taiwan
08.12.09
 
August 12, 2009

Image showing one area with an excess of 600 mm (~24 inches) of rain and two areas in excess of 1000 mm (~40 inches). > View larger image
The TRMM satellite measured almost half of the entire southern half of the island has in excess of 600 mm (~24 inches, shown in yellow shading) of rain. Within that are two areas in excess of 1000 mm (~40 inches, shown in red on the image) along the western slopes of the central mountain range.
Credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce
TRMM shows a large rainband of light to moderate rain with embedded areas of heavy rain. > View larger image
At the time of this image, the center of Morakot had already passed over Taiwan and was just about to make landfall on the east coast of mainland China. TRMM shows a large rainband of light to moderate rain (blue and green areas, respectively) with embedded areas of heavy rain (shown in red) oriented southwest to northeast still over southern Taiwan.
Credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce
NASA's TRMM Satellite Sees Typhoon Morakot's Massive Flooding in Taiwan

Typhoon Morakot struck Taiwan on the night of Friday August 7, 2009 as a category 2 storm with sustained winds of 85 knots (92 mph). Although the center made landfall in Hualien county along the central east coast of Taiwan and passed over the central northern part of the island, it was southern Taiwan that received the worst effects of the storm where locally as much as 80 inches of rain were reported, resulting in the worst flooding there in 50 years.

Morakot began as a tropical depression on the morning of the August 4 (local time) in the central Philippine Sea about midway between the Northern Mariana Islands and Taiwan. The system strengthened into a tropical storm later on August 4 and became a typhoon on the morning of August 5 as it tracked due westward toward Taiwan. Morakot maintained category 1 intensity on August 6 with sustained winds estimated at 80 knots (~92 mph) by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The storm briefly reached category 2 intensity with sustained winds of 85 knots (~98 mph) as it neared the coast of Taiwan on the August 7.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite (commonly known as TRMM) was launched back in November of 1997 with the primary objective of measuring rainfall in the Tropics. Besides its own estimates, TRMM can also be used to calibrate rainfall estimates from other satellites for increased coverage. The TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is used to monitor rainfall over the global Tropics. TMPA rainfall totals associated with the passage of Morakot are shown here for the period August 3 to 10, 2009.

In the analysis, Morakot's track is shown by the the appropriate tropical cyclone symbols. The analysis shows extremely heavy amounts of rain over the southern half of Taiwan, which is on the southern side of the storm track. Nearly the entire southern half of the island has in excess of 600 mm (~24 inches, shown in yellow shading) of rain. Within that are two areas in excess of 1000 mm (~40 inches, shown in red on the image) along the western slopes of the central mountain range. The result of the enormous amount of rain has been massive flooding and devastating mudslides. So far 50 people are confirmed dead and 58 missing. But, this does not include potentially hundreds of people in Shiao Lin, which was destroyed by a large mudslide. Shiao Lin is located on the western side of the central mountain range in south central Taiwan.

Armed with a combination of passive microwave and active radar sensors, TRMM can also provide unique images of tropical cyclones. This last image from TRMM shows the horizontal pattern of rain intensity (top down view) within Morakot. The image was taken at 3:17 UTC (11:17 am local time) on August9, 2009. Rain rates in the center of the swath are from the TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR), a unique space-borne precipitation radar, while those in the outer swath are from the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI). These rain rates are overlaid on visible and infrared (IR) data from the TRMM Visible Infrared Scanner (VIRS). At the time of this image, the center of Morakot had already passed over Taiwan and was just about to make landfall on the east coast of mainland China. However, TRMM shows a large rainband of light to moderate rain (blue and green areas, respectively) with embedded areas of heavy rain (shown in red) oriented southwest to northeast still over southern Taiwan.

This feature reveals the reason for the heavy amounts of rain over the southern portion of the island: persistent southwesterly flow associated with Morakot and it's circulation was able to draw up copious amounts of moisture from the South China Sea into southern Taiwan where it was able to interact with the steep topography.

After crossing Taiwan, Morakot eventually made landfall in China on the afternoon of August 10. So far 8 persons have been reported to have died there. And despite its center being no where near the islands, Morakot is being blamed for 25 deaths in the Philippines (where it is known locally as Kiko) due to flooding and mudslides.

Taiwan news indicated on August 12, that massive losses in the fisheries and agricultural industries resulted from Morakot's flooding. Losses are estimated near 237 million U.S. dollars. Crops like bananas were hardest hit, and there were massive livestock losses reported. More than 5 million chickens, 100,000 pigs and over 900,000 ducks perished in the storm. Power was cut to more than 1.5 million homes, but has since been restored. As of today, 27 bridges and 69 main roads are still reported blocked or impassable.

TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.

Text credit: Steve Lang, SSAI/Goddard Space Flight Center



August 11, 2009

Typhoon Morakot became a Category 2 storm before moving over Taiwan on August 7, 2009. > View larger image
Typhoon Morakot became a Category 2 storm before moving over Taiwan on August 7, 2009.
Credit: NASA/TRMM, Jesse Allen
Slow-Moving Typhoon Morakot Inundates Taiwan

Though its winds were not particularly powerful when it made landfall in Tawian, slow-moving Typhoon Morakot soaked the southern part of the island with heavy rain between August 3 and 9, 2009. The water-soaked ground slid off the sides of mountains, generating deadly landslides. The largest slide occurred in the southern mountains of Taiwan; as of August 10, at least a hundred people were still missing.

Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center produced an image of the rainfall accumulation along Morakot’s path through the western Pacific and is based on estimates from the near-real-time, Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis. The analysis depends on data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite. Increasing storm intensity (beginning with Tropical Depression) is indicated by darker shades of red. Morakot intensified to Category 2 strength prior to landfall. Highest rainfall totals (greater than 900 millimeters, or about 34 inches) are dark blue, and they are concentrated over the mountains of southern Taiwan. According to BBC news, the flooding in Taiwan is the worst in 50 years.

Text credit: Rebecca Lindsey, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center



August 10, 2009

Cyclone Morakot's rainfall from August 3-10. > View larger image or > View video
This animation shows Cyclone Morakot's rainfall from August 3-10, when it traveled through the East China Sea and brought flooding rains to Taiwan on August 7-8, finally making landfall in east China on August 9.
Credit: NASA/JAXA, TRMM
Typhoon Morakot brought more than 40 inches of rain fell in central and northern Taiwan. > View larger image
The rainfall map that TRMM created from August 3-10 over Taiwan and China showed that Typhoon Morakot brought more than 40 inches (purple and pink) of rain fell in central and northern Taiwan.
Credit: NASA/JAXA, TRMM
Morakot making landfall in eastern China on August 9 at 1:15 a.m. EDT. > View larger image
NASA's Aqua satellite captured Morakot making landfall in eastern China on August 9 at 1:15 a.m. EDT using the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument.
Credit: NASA MODIS Rapid Response Team
NASA Satellite Sees Severe Flooding Rains from Deadly Typhoon Morakot

Typhoon Morakot brought enormous amounts of rainfall to Taiwan and China and NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) estimated it from space.

The monster Typhoon Morakot that was over 1,000 miles in diameter last week brought widespread damage to Taiwan and China as crossed Taiwan and made landfall over the weekend in mainland China.

The TRMM satellite, managed by NASA and the Japanese Space Agency can measure rainfall from space. TRMM data, along with information from other satellites, allows researchers to see how much rain is falling over most of the world every three hours and map areas of potential flooding. Maps that show areas of potential floods use precipitation radar data and high resolution measurements of water content of clouds made by microwave radiometers.

The rainfall map that TRMM created from August 3-10 over Taiwan and China showed more than 40 inches of rain fell in central and northern Taiwan as a result of Typhoon Morakot. Some areas even reported isolated amounts near 100 inches (more than 8 feet) of water!

Those rainfall maps are also made into a seven-day "movie loop" that allows users to track storms as they travel over land and oceans around the globe. The rainfall animations are developed in the Laboratory for Atmospheres of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. by the TRMM precipitation research team.

The tremendous amounts of rain caused mudslides and raging rivers that overflowed their banks and caused widespread flooding and erosion. In the city of Chihpen, Taiwan, one hotel that was evacuated along the banks of a river collapsed into the river. In the Hsiao-lin village it is feared that a mudslide buried more than 600 residents alive. News reports in Taiwan are calling Morakot's flooding the worst in 50 years.

According to the United Kingdom's Guardian newspaper, mainland China experienced sustained winds near 75 mph as Morakot made landfall in the Fujian and Zhejiang provinces. More than 500,000 were evacuated and its heavy rains flooded coastal areas and destroyed as many as 1,800 homes.

For more information about how TRMM looks at rainfall, visit NASA's TRMM website at: http://trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov/. TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center











August 7, 2009

Satellite image of Morakot The MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite captured this stunning image of giant Typhoon Morakot just before landfall in Taiwan on August 6 at 1:25 a.m. EDT. Credit: NASA/MODIS Rapid Response
› Larger image image depicting satellite data of Morakot The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured the icy clouds in Typhoon Morakot on Aug. 7 at 1:23 EDT as it brought heavy rains from Taiwan to the Philippines. Credit: NASA/JPL/Ed Olsen
› Larger image image depicting satellite data of Morakot NASA's CloudSat captured a side view of Morakot on Aug. 7 and found Morakot's clouds are over 17 km (10 miles) high! Credit: NASA/JPL/CSU/NRL-Monterey
› Larger image
NASA Satellite Image Shows Deadly Typhoon Morakot Slamming Taiwan

Sometimes satellite imagery will leave a person in awe of nature's power and that's what the latest satellite image from NASA's Aqua satellite will do as it shows the giant Typhoon Morakot's center about to cross Taiwan. Morakot has already caused problems in Taiwan on its approach and has proven deadly in the Philippines.

Taiwan has already reported flooding rains, landslides, gusty winds and power outages on Friday, August 7 as Morakot was making landfall and crossing the island nation on its way to a final landfall in China on Saturday. BBC News reported some mountainous areas of northern Taiwan had already received up to 20 inches of rain. Taiwan has ordered airline flights canceled and schools closed.

NASA's Aqua satellite flew over the 1,000 mile in diameter-wide Morakot and captured an awesome image of its clouds using the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on August 7 at 1:25 a.m. EDT. The image shows Morakot's center about to cross over east-central Taiwan. Morakot is so large that the southern extent of its cloud cover and heavy rains reach into the northern Philippines. According to People's Daily on-line, ten people have already lost their lives to Morakot's wrath.

On Friday, Aug. 7 at 11 a.m. EDT, Morakot's sustained winds were near 92 mph (80 knots). Satellite imagery is showing the beginning development of an "eye" in Morakot's center, indicating its strengthening as it approaches landfall in Taiwan. The center of the storm was near 24.0 north and 121.7 east, about 70 miles south-southeast of Taipei, Taiwan, moving west-northwest.

After Morakot's landfall in Taiwan it is forecast to turn northwest after reemerging into the Strait of Taiwan. Forecasters at the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center are forecasting that Morakot "will enter the Taiwan Strait as a weak typhoon and should maintain its intensity through the strait due to favorable sea surface temperatures and minimal vertical wind shear values."

The forecast track looks like the storm will form an "L" on its path. It is expected to lose some of its strength as its eye crosses part of Taiwan. Landfall is expected to occur on Saturday in mainland China near Fuzhou and the storm is then expected to shoot north, just to the west of Shanghai.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center



August 6, 2009

Typhoon Morakot Cloud Top Extent Doubled In Size in One Day

Typhoon Morakot's cold clouds stretching over 1,000 miles in diameter on Aug 6, in the East China Sea. > View larger image
This infrared satellite image shows Typhoon Morakot's cold clouds (depicted in purple and blue) stretching over 1,000 miles in diameter on Aug 6, in the East China Sea.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
Satellite imagery over the last two days has shown Typhoon Morakot to be a monster, and over the last two days, NASA satellites have confirmed the typhoon doubled its size!

"Our satellite scan swath width is 1700 kilometers (1,056 miles) and Morakot looks to be almost that much in diameter in the infrared imagery on August 5," said Ed Olsen, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Olsen provides images for the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on the Aqua satellite. "On August 4 Morakot was only about 1/2 the width of our swath width, near 850 kilometers (528 miles) in diameter!"

To put it into perspective, 1,056 miles is longer than the distance from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Orlando, Florida. Olsen said that it's important to know that satellite image represents the lateral extent of the cold cloud tops and that the winds definitely do not extend over an area 1,000 miles in diameter.

AIRS captured an infrared image of Typhoon Morakot tracking through the East China Sea on August 6 at 12:35 a.m. EDT (0435 UTC). At 11 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6, Morakot was closing in on Taiwan and was located 240 miles east-southeast of Taipei, Taiwan, near 23.2 north and 125.0 east. Morakot the monster has maximum sustained winds near 92 mph (80 knots) and was moving west near 14 mph.

AIRS provides visible, infrared and microwave images of tropical storms. AIRS also measures cloud top temperature and pressure and the profile of water vapor as functions of height. Infrared imagery shows the temperature of the cloud tops which gives a hint about the power of the thunderstorms in a tropical cyclone. The colder the clouds are, the higher they are, and the more powerful the thunderstorms are that make up the cyclone.

Typhoon Morakot is forecast to strengthen more before it crosses northern Taiwan later today and makes a final landfall in China by the weekend.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center



August 5, 2009

NASA Infrared Satellite Imagery Sees a Monster in Morakot

This image shows Morakot's clouds indicating very high, frigid clouds and strong thunderstorms. > View larger image
This infrared satellite image shows a very large Cyclone Morakot's clouds (depicted in purple and blue) indicating very high, frigid clouds and strong thunderstorms on Aug 4 as it tracks through the East China Sea.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image that showed a huge cyclone named Morakot tracking through the East China Sea, on the way to a landfall in mainland China.

Morakot is a large storm with maximum sustained winds near 69 mph (60 knots), just 5 mph shy of a category one hurricane strength. It's currently located in the East China Sea, near 23.2 north and 130.4 east. That's about 300 miles southeast of Okinawa, Japan. Its moving west near 14 mph.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) is an instrument used in tropical storm research that flies on Aqua. AIRS provides visible, infrared and microwave images of tropical storms. AIRS also measures cloud top temperature and pressure and the profile of water vapor as functions of height. Infrared imagery shows the temperature of the cloud tops which gives a hint about the power of the thunderstorms in a tropical cyclone. The colder the clouds are, the higher they are, and the more powerful the thunderstorms are that make up the cyclone.

Morakot will keep moving westward, and it will remain in warm sea surface temperatures and low wind shear over the next 72 hours, which will enable it to maintain its strength.

Morakot's forecast track takes the center north of Taiwan and predicts a landfall almost directly between Hong Kong and Shanghai on August 6.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center



August 4, 2009

Tropical Storm Morakot Forms in Western Pacific

AIRS instrument infrared image of Morakot on Aug. 4 at 12:47 a.m. EDT that shows how large the storm is. > View larger image
NASA's AIRS instrument captured an infrared image of Morakot on Aug. 4 at 12:47 a.m. EDT that shows how large the storm is, as it heads west toward China.
Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
While tropical storm Goni is poised to make landfall south of Hong Kong, China, another new tropical storm, Morakot, is now expected to make landfall south of Shanghai by the weekend.

Tropical storm Morakot, also designated as Storm 09W ("W" for western Pacific) had sustained winds near 45 knots (52 mph) on Tuesday, August 4 at 12:47 a.m. EDT (0447 Zulu Time). The storm was located near 22.4 north and 134.5 east, or about 440 miles east-southeast of Okinawa, Japan. Morakot is moving west-northwest near 9 knots (11 mph).

Morakot formed late at night on August 3, and is expected to intensify to a category 1 typhoon before it makes landfall.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite is used in tropical storm research by measuring cloud top temperature and pressure. AIRS captured an infrared image of Morakot on Aug. 4 at 6:29 a.m. EDT. The forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, who are forecasting for this storm noted "infrared imagery shows convection rapidly consolidating Near the center of the circulation with deep convective bands to the south that have yet to connect to the central system."

In infrared imagery, NASA's false-colored purple clouds are as cold as or colder than 220 Kelvin or minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (F). The blue colored clouds are about 240 Kelvin, or minus 27F. The colder the clouds are, the higher they are, and the more powerful the thunderstorms are that make up the cyclone.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center