Public Release: 

NASA satellite sees severe flooding rains from deadly typhoon morakot

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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.

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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.

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