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NASA caught Soulik's visible eye before making deadly landfall

Typhoon Soulik still maintained an eye just before making landfall in southeastern China on July 13, and NASA's Terra satellite captured the eye in an image. Soulik's heavy rainfall in southern China is responsible for hundreds missing or dead.

On July 11, when Typhoon Soulik was approaching Taiwan, NASA and the Japanese Space Agency's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite known as TRMM passed overhead in space.

This TRMM Precipitation Radar 3-D view (from the northwest) shows Typhoon Soulik east of Taiwan. The structure of Soulik's large eye is clearly shown by this TRMM PR slice.

Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce

TRMM's Precipitation Radar instrument captured data on rainfall rates, and that data was used to create a 3-D view of the typhoon looking from the northwest. That 3-D view clearly showed Typhoon Soulik's eye when it was east of Taiwan. The 3-D image also revealed the ring of thunderstorms surrounding the eye had rainfall rates of 2 inches/50 mm per hour.

Two days later on July 13, Typhoon Soulik was a category one typhoon when NASA's Terra satellite flew over the storm. Terra's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument captured another image of its eye. On July 13 at 0900 UTC (5 a.m. EDT), Soulik's maximum sustained winds were near 70 knots (80.5/129.6 kph). Those typhoon-strength winds extended 45 nautical miles (51.7 miles/83.3 km) from the center. At that time, Soulik's center had passed Taiwan and was 87 nautical miles (100 miles/161 km) west-northwest of Taipei, Taiwan, near 26.8 north and 120.1 east.

By 1500 UTC (11 a.m. EDT) on July 13, Soulik had made landfall near Fuzhou in southeastern China and was centered near 26.8 north and 119.1 east. After interacting with land, Soulik's maximum sustained winds fell to 60 knots (69 mph/111 kph).

According to the South China Morning Post, Soulik's flooding and landslides have left at least 300 people missing or dead. The southwestern province of Sichuan reported 68 deaths and 179 people missing. Two people died in the Guangdong province, and other parts of China reported 41 deaths and two missing.

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
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