Typhoon Morakot bore down on the island of Taiwan on August 7, 2009. When the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image at 1:25 p.m. local time (5:25 UTC), the center of the storm was just beginning to reach the shoreline. Morakot was a Category 2 storm with winds of about 160 kilometers per hour (100 miles per hour or 85 knots) and was moving slowly northwest over Taiwan. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasted that the storm would pass directly over Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, inundating the city with heavy rain.
As a Category 2 storm, Morakot does not possess a distinctive eye. The storm is large, however. Its spiraling clouds stretch from the Philippines to Japan’s southern islands.
Located in the warm waters of the West Pacific along the same line of latitude as the Bahamas, Taiwan is no stranger to tropical cyclones. The island is regularly bombarded by typhoons and tropical storms. Damage inflicted by slow-moving Morakot is most likely to come from intense rain falling on steep mountains for several hours, potentially triggering floods and landslides.
The high-resolution image provided above is at MODIS’ full spatial resolution (level of detail) of 250 meters per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response System provides this image at additional resolutions.