Typhoon Melor bringing stormy weather to the Philippines

14 12 2015

After an extremely active northern hemisphere tropical cyclone season in 2015, the last couple of weeks have been very quiet. This is not unusual as the season often tails off in November and December. However, there has been a sting in the tail in the form of Typhoon Melor. Late last week a disturbance in the western North Pacific started to develop and during the weekend quickly intensified into Typhoon Melor. On Monday morning at landfall, winds averaged over 1-minute peaked near 130 mph which makes Melor equivalent to a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Remarkably that makes Typhoon Melor the 27th tropical cyclone in the northern hemisphere to reach category 4 or 5 this year – a full nine more than the previous record set in 2004.

Melor has already tracked along the north coast of the Philippine island of Samar and has now made landfall over the south-east of the island of Luzon. Population centres such as Sorsogon City and Legazpi City are likely to experience very strong winds and heavy rainfall. Some areas of the central Philippines could see as much as 500-1000 mm of rain fall in the next couple of days which could bring floods and mudslides. Melor is expected to continue westwards towards Mindoro Island before moving into the South China Sea as a weakening storm.

Typhoon Melor at 0710 UTC on 14 December 2015 Image from the Himawari satellite

Typhoon Melor at 0710 UTC on 14 December 2015
Image from the Himawari satellite

Although the main season for typhoons in the Philippines is from June to November, the country has been hit by several storms in December in recent years. In 2012 Typhoon Bopha struck the island of Mindanao with winds near 165 mph causing much damage and numerous fatalities. A year earlier Tropical Storm Washi struck a similar location. Although winds were not exceptional, huge amounts of rain caused flooding and mudslides, again resulting in many casualties.

Official warnings for the latest tropical cyclones in the western North Pacific are produced by the Japan Meteorological Agency. The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of cyclone tracks from its global forecast model to regional meteorological centres worldwide, which are used along with guidance from other models in the production of forecasts and guidance. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.

Cyclone Phailin and more Pacific Typhoons

14 10 2013

As per forecasts discussed in our blog last week, Cyclone Phailin struck the east coast of India over the weekend with winds estimated at near 130 mph.

It brought a strong storm surge along the coast and more than 230 mm (9 inches) of rain was recorded as the cyclone passed.

The cyclone was of a similar strength to one which struck just a little further up the coast in 1999, which claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Excellent forecasts for Phailin, combined with well executed warning and evacuation procedures, meant the loss of life was much less this time around.

Phailin became a tropical storm a little more than three days before landfall, but computer models were able to give far greater warning than this.

Medium range prediction models suggested a higher risk of cyclone formation in the Bay of Bengal a full nine days before Cyclone Phailin struck.

At six days ahead, shorter range models were predicting that the north-eastern coast of India could be under threat, although the timing was not certain at that stage.

Four days ahead, computer models were able to pinpoint the location and timing of landfall to a high degree of accuracy – all before the storm was strong enough to be named.

Cyclone Phailin originated from a disturbance in the far west Pacific basin and was one of a series of tropical storms seen in this region recently.

Stitched image for 0600-0700 HRS on Saturday, 12 October 2013. Phailin is on the left, Nari in the centre, and Wutip on the right. Images from CIMSS http://tropic.ssec.wisc.edu/

Stitched image for 0600-0700 HRS (GMT) on Saturday, 12 October 2013. Phailin is on the left, Nari in the centre, and Wipha on the right. Images from CIMSS http://tropic.ssec.wisc.edu/

Nine storms have developed in the west Pacific in the last month, including Typhoons Usagi and Fitow which struck China, Typhoon Wutip which struck Vietnam, and Typhoon Danas which caused heavy rain in South Korea and Japan.

More recently Typhoon Nari crossed the Philippines on Friday and is about to strike Vietnam. Typhoon Wipha may cause disruption in southern Japan and it seems likely another typhoon will develop later this week.

Despite this recent activity, in 2013 the northern hemisphere as a whole has still only had about 60% of the expected activity for this point in the season and regions such at the Atlantic have only seen about 30% of normal activity.

Northern hemisphere activity tends to diminish through November as the southern hemisphere season begins.

Official forecasts of Indian Ocean tropical storms are provided by the Indian Meteorological Department. Official warnings of west Pacific tropical storms are produced by the Japanese Meteological Agency (JMA).

From Tuesday 15th October a graphical display of Met Office forecast tracks of active tropical storms will be available from our web pages. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.

Stormy days ahead in the Tropics

23 08 2012

Whilst in the UK attention is focused on the weather for the coming Bank Holiday weekend, in the tropics it looks set to be a stormy few days ahead.

Typhoon Tembin  has winds of over 100 mph and is set to make landfall on Taiwan on Friday. It is likely to be slow moving which could result in huge amounts of rain accompanied by flooding in parts of the island. Tembin will be the 11th tropical storm to make landfall over south-east Asia so far this season.

Meanwhile Typhoon Bolaven lies further east in the Pacific Ocean and looks set to head towards land as well. A turn to the north-west is expected, but this will still result in a likely landfall over north-eastern China in several days time.

Across in the Atlantic and Caribbean Tropical Storm Isaac is developing. It has already crossed the Leeward Islands and is set to make landfall over Hispaniola, which comprises the Dominican Republic and Haiti, on Friday. It could be a minimal hurricane by that time, but its greatest impact will again be from heavy rain – up to 500mm  is possible – accompanied by flooding and mudslides. After this time Isaac is expected to track along the length of Cuba and turn towards Florida and possibly into the eastern Gulf of Mexico over the weekend and into next week. The precise track and strength of the storm at this time is uncertain at present.

Further Atlantic tropical storms are possible in the coming week, although there is no indication yet that any of these will threaten land.

For more information on tropical cyclones worldwide visit our web pages or follow @metofficestorms on Twitter.


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