1Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
2National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
3Department of Geology, Chinese Culture University, Taipei, Taiwan
4Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research, National Central University, Jhongli, Taiwan
Abstract. Within 100 h, a record-breaking rainfall, 2855 mm, was brought to Taiwan by typhoon Morakot in August 2009 resulting in devastating landslides and casualties. Analyses and simulations show that under favorable large-scale situations, this unprecedented precipitation was caused first by the convergence of the southerly component of the pre-existing strong southwesterly monsoonal flow and the northerly component of the typhoon circulation. Then the westerly component of southwesterly flow pushed the highly moist air (mean specific humidity >16 g/kg between 950 and 700 hPa from NCEP GFS data set) eastward against the Central Mountain Range, and forced it to lift in the preferred area. From the fine-scale numerical simulation, not only did the convergence itself provide the source of the heavy rainfall when it interacted with the topography, but also convective cells existed within the typhoon's main rainband. The convective cells were in the form of small rainbands perpendicular to the main one, and propagated as wave trains downwind. As the main rainband moved northward and reached the southern CMR, convective cells inside the narrow convergence zone to the south and those to the north as wave trains, both rained heavily as they were lifted by the west-facing mountain slopes. Those mesoscale processes were responsible for the unprecedented heavy rainfall total that accompanied this typhoon.