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Philippines Feel the Effects of Kujira (Dante) - NASA/TRMM

Kujira became the first typhoon of the year in the northern West Pacific as it pulled away from the east-central Philippines early on the afternoon (local time) of the 4th of May 2009. The Philippines, which are frequently influenced by tropical cyclones, felt the effects of Kujira (known locally as "Dante") while it was still just a tropical storm.

Satellite view of typhoon (Kujira) Dante in the Philippines

A tropical depression formed from a stationary area of low pressure on the afternoon (local time) of May 1st near the southeastern tip of Luzon along the eastern side of the central Philippines. Later that same day the depression was upgraded to a minimal tropical storm and was named Kujira. The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite (commonly known as TRMM) has been providing valuable images and information on tropical cyclones around the Tropics for over 11 years now since its launch back in November of 1997. Armed with a combination of passive microwave and active radar sensors, TRMM can provide unique images of tropical cyclones.

This first image from TRMM shows what would later become Kujira just after it had formed into a tropical depression. The image was taken at 6:28 UTC (2:28 pm local time) on 2 May 2009. It shows the horizontal pattern of rain intensity (top down view) within the depression. Rain rates in the center of the swath are from the TRMM Precipitation Radar (PR), a unique space-borne precipitation radar, while those in the outer swath are from the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI). These rain rates are overlaid on visible and infrared (IR) data from the TRMM Visible Infrared Scanner (VIRS). At the time of this image, the system was a new depression with sustained winds estimated at just 30 knots (35 mph) by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Rainfall chart of typhoon Dante (Kujira)in the Philippines

Besides its own estimates, TRMM can be used to calibrate rainfall estimates from other satellites for increased coverage. The TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is used to monitor rainfall over the global Tropics. TMPA rainfall totals associated with this system are shown for the period 27 April to 4 May 2009. The analysis shows extremely heavy amounts of rain on the order of 750 mm or more (~30 inches, shown by the lighter shade of brown) over southeastern Luzon and Catanduanes Island just to the east. Just over 12 hours after the previous TRMM snapshot of the depression was taken, a landslide in Sorsogon province in far southeastern Luzon killed 17 people when their houses were swept away in a village of Magallanes town. So far a total of 23 persons are reported to have died in the region on account of the storm, mainly due to flooding and landslides.

Satellite view of typhoon Dante (Kujira) exiting in the Philippines

On Sunday May 3rd, Kujira finally began to move off to the northeast away from the islands and into the northern Philippine Sea. In the process, it also gained strength. This last image from TRMM was taken at 20:25 UTC on the 3rd of May (4:25 am 4 May local time) as it was moving northeast away from the Philippines; at that time it was a strong tropical storm with sustained winds estimated at 55 knots (~63 mph). In this image, Kujira has a small but well-defined core made up almost entirely of a complete eyewall containing moderate to intense rain (continuous circular area of green and red, respectively). Kujira would go on to become a strong Category 3 typhoon with sustained winds estimated at 100 knots (115 mph) by the following afternoon. The storm is expected to strengthen slightly before weakening in the northwest Pacific well south of Japan.

Images by Hal Pierce(SSAI/NASA GSFC) and captions by Steve Lang (SSAI/NASA GSFC)

Note: The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) designed to monitor and study tropical rainfall.

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