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Floods in Southern Taiwan

Floods in Southern Taiwan

Once a powerful super typhoon packing winds of 125 knots (144 mph) as it approached the northern Philippines on June 29, 2004, Mindulle weakened as it moved across the West Pacific, leaving a path of destruction. The bulk of the damage, in the northern Philippines and Taiwan, was not due to Mindulle’s strong winds, however, but to the heavy rains the storm generated that resulted in widespread flooding and mudslides. The storm was responsible for at least 31 fatalities in the Philippines, and 11 more are still missing. At least 22 fatalities occurred in Taiwan and 14 others are still missing. Almost all of the deaths were a direct result of flooding and mudslides.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite has been monitoring rainfall over the global tropics since its launch in November of 1997 using both a microwave imager and the first precipitation radar in space. The TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (MPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center provides quantitative rainfall estimates over the global tropics. MPA rainfall totals between June 23 and July 4, 2004 are shown for the West Pacific and surrounding areas. Mindulle’s track is denoted by the cyclone symbols shown at the 00:00 UTC positions beginning at 00:00 UTC on June 23, 2004. Mindulle’s path is also clearly identified by the trail of heavy rain (dark red areas) across the Philippine Sea. The storm’s slow forward speed as evidenced by the closely positioned cyclone symbols was responsible for the near 20-inch rainfall totals (dark reds) that stretch across the far the western part of the Philippine Sea and over the northern part of the island of Luzon. Twenty-inch rainfall accumulations are also visible over central and southern parts of Taiwan. Significantly smaller amounts of rainfall occur along the northern part of Mindulle’s path as the storm accelerated as it moved north of Taiwan and began moving much faster.

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

Image produced by Hal Pierce (SSAI/NASA GSFC) and caption by Steve Lang (SSAI/NASA GSFC).