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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.