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Authorities take to the air to survey approaching typhoon

TAIPEI--As Typhoon Matmo continues its course to be the first typhoon to make landfall in Taiwan this year, researchers and the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) on Monday conducted a six-hour flight surveillance mission ahead of the storm's expected Wednesday morning landing.

The mission was conducted using the Dropwindsonde Observations for Typhoon Surveillance near the Taiwan Region (DOTSTAR) project, a method of observing a typhoon's behavior and predicting its course by dropping observational devices inside the storm from above that can reduce the error of margin of a 72-hour forecast by 7.5 percent.

Taiwan's 70th DOTSTAR mission launched from Taichung Airport at 5 p.m. to use airborne sensors called dropwindsondes, which are released from jet aircraft flying at 42,000 feet.

Since DOTSTAR missions began in 2003, meteorologists have been able to get accurate results on 69 typhoons that were forecast to affect Taiwan.

The project is the only one in Asia to use aircraft for tropical storm monitoring and forecasting operations.

As of 5:30 p.m. Monday, Typhoon Matmo was at sea 670 kilometers southeast of Eluanbi, Taiwan's southern tip.

While the typhoon is on a path to hit northeastern Taiwan, meteorological observation data available by sea is insufficient to completely accurately predict storm behavior, prompting the CWB and the Taiwan Typhoon and Flood Research Institute and Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. to plan the DOTSTAR survey.

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