Tropical Cyclone Elita (09S)
Images produced by Hal Pierce (SSAI/NASA GSFC) and caption by Steve Lang
Having formed just off the west coast of the island of Madagascar on
the 26th of January 2004, Tropical cyclone Elita (9S) then came ashore
on the 29th near the coastal town of Mahajanga on the northwest coast.
Elita then moved southwest parallel to the coast line before drifting
back out over the Mozambique Channel on the 1st of February. Elita
strengthened into a minimal category 1 cyclone with winds estimated at
75 mph by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center on the 2nd. The system then
came ashore again on the western coastline of Madagascar near the town
of Morondava before moving southeast across the island on the 3rd and
exiting on the east coast. Four more people were reported killed as
a result of Elita coming ashore for the second time and many thousands
were reported to be left homeless.
The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite captured this
image of Elita just after it had made landfall for the second time.
The image was taken at 1:33 UTC on 3 February 2004. Rain rates are shown
in the center swath from the TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR), the first
radar of its kind 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 reveals
that the rainfall pattern around Elita is very asymmetrical. Almost all
of the rain close to the center is on the right-hand side. Only a very
localized area of intense rain is observed near the center (small red
spot) with most of the rain being moderate (green) to light (blue) in
intensity. There is still good banding evident in the rain field
associated with the storm's circulation. Heavy rain rates (darker reds)
are present in an outer rainband to the north. The second image is a
vertical slice as seen from the west through the storm showing the
location of the heavier rain rates (darker reds) near the center and in
the outer rainbands.
The fact that Elita hovered for many days near the same area resulted
in copious amounts of rainfall. 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 last image shows
MPA rainfall totals for the period 27 January to 3 February, 2004. It
shows areas of rainfall exceeding 20 inches (darker reds) for the
period all along the western coastline of Madagascar that also extend
across the Mozambique Channel to the east coast of Mozambique.
TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.
This image originally appeared on the Earth Observatory. Click here to view the full, original record.