Tropical Cyclone Elita (09S)

Tropical Cyclone Elita (09S)
  • Credit:

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

Tropical cyclone Elita (9S) formed just off the west coast of the island of Madagascar in the Mozambique Channel on 26 January 2004 as a minimal tropical storm with winds estimated at around 40 mph by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Elita then slowly meandered towards the northeast along the coastline of Madagascar before turning southeast and coming ashore on the 29th near the coastal town of Mahajanga on the northwestern coast of Madagascar. One person was reported killed by the storm and numerous houses and buildings were destroyed in the town.

The first image was captured by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite and shows Elita just off the northwest coast of Madagascar. The image was taken at 3:42 UTC on 28 January 2004. At the time of the image, Elita's strength was still only estimated to be near 40 mph though the next advisory later on the 28th put the maximum estimated sustained winds to be near 70 mph. The image shows the horizontal distribution of rain rates as seen from above by the TRMM satellite. Rain rates in the center swath are from the TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR), the first precipitation radar in space, while rain rates in the outer swath are from the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI). The rain rates are overlaid on infrared (IR) data from the TRMM Visible Infrared Scanner (VIRS). TRMM shows that Elita is not well organized having an open eye structure with the heaviest rain rates of 2 inches per hour (dark red areas) occurring in a rainband away from the center. Still there are ample areas of moderate rainfall associated with Elita (green areas) with embedded areas of heavier rain (smaller orange areas) to generate substantial amounts of rainfall especially when combined with the slow forward speed of the storm.

The TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (MPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center monitors rainfall over the global tropics. The second image shows MPA rainfall totals for the period 23-29 January, 2004. It reveals that coastal areas of northwestern Madagascar may have received upwards of 2 feet of rain (dark red areas) as a result of Elita. These copious rain totals extend all the way across the Mozambique Channel to the eastern coastline of Mozambique.

Images & Animations


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  • Data Date:

    January 28, 2004
  • Visualization Date:

    January 30, 2004
  • Sensor(s):

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration