Wipha Dumps Huge Amounts of Tropical Moisture on Japan

By Tom Yulsman | October 16, 2013 3:39 pm

Typhoon Wipha pulled large amounts of precipitable water up from the tropics as it charged along the coast of Japan, as revealed in this animation of satellite microwave data. (Source: CIMSS)

The animation above of Typhoon Wipha charging up the coast of Japan visualizes the storm in a different way from typical weather satellite images. It shows total precipitable water — a measure of the total amount of water vapor extending from the ocean surface to the top of the atmosphere.

The largest amounts of precipitable water are shown in the deepest reddish-orange tones.

As the animation suggests, Wipha pulled prodigious amounts of water up from the tropics. Large amounts of it rained out over Japan. In fact, in just 24 hours an absolutely astounding 33.5 inches of rain fell on the island of Izu Oshima south of Tokyo, according to the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (source of the animation above).

The result was deadly landslides that buried houses, as seen in this Twitpic:

At least 50 people are unaccounted for on the island, according to the BBC. And so far, 17 deaths in Japan are attributed to the storm.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


See More


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar