At least eleven people have perished and more than 10,000 have been evacuated in the worst flooding to hit Malaysia in over a decade. The hardest hit areas are along the east coast of peninsular Malaysia in the states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang. The city of Kota Baru was particularly hard hit. For Malaysia, December is part of the northeast monsoon. Prevailing northeasterly winds flow across the South China Sea bringing in abundant moisture. Typically, during the northeast monsoon, heavy rain events lasting on the order of a few days are common. The prevailing winds can interact with the topography squeezing out the moisture.
The TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (MPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center monitors rainfall over the global tropics. This image shows MPA rainfall totals for December 7-13, 2004. It shows that well over 800 millimeters (32 inches) of rain may have fallen along the east coast of peninsular Malaysia (darkest red area). The heaviest rain fell between December 9 and December 10.
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).