In late December 2000, a cyclone hit Sri Lanka and India. With winds up to 150 km per hour (90 mph), the storm killed eight people in Sri Lanka and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes in India.
The image above shows data from the SeaWinds instrument aboard the QuikSCAT satellite at 5:30 AM Sri Lanka time. At that time the storm was approaching Sri Lanka from the east. SeaWinds measures ocean winds by measuring the scattering of microwaves (generated by the instrument) off the sea surface. In addition to providing data about cyclones and other tropical storms, scientists use SeaWinds data to study ocean circulation, El Niño, and global climate.
Image courtesy Seaflux and the JPL Scatterometry team