Powerful super-typhoon heads for Philippines

1 04 2015

There is currently a super typhoon in the western North Pacific called Maysak. This is a particularly strong storm for the time of year with winds in excess of 160 mph. The strongest storms in this region usually occur between August and October. Tropical storms, including typhoons, are reliant on sea surface temperatures for their energy, and as the northern hemisphere has just moved from winter to spring, this is the coldest time of year for sea temperatures. However, in the region where Typhoon Maysak formed just north of the equator, sea temperatures are almost always above 26°C, which is the critical value for tropical storm formation. Furthermore, the sea temperatures are unusually warm in this area by more than 2°C.

Super Typhoon Maysak is the fourth tropical storm of the season in the western North Pacific, the others being Mekkhala, Higos and Bavi. There has not been a year with four or more tropical storms in this region forming before the end of March since 1965. Three of the four storms have been typhoons – only Bavi remained below the 74mph threshold (the sustained wind speed required to become a typhoon). There have never been as many typhoons before the end of March in the era of reliable records (since World War II). Maysak was also the strongest typhoon to develop in March in this region since Mitag in 2002.

Typhoon Maysak as seen from the MTSAT satellite on 1 April 2015 Image courtesy of digital-typhoon.org

Typhoon Maysak as seen from the MTSAT satellite on 1 April 2015
Image courtesy of digital-typhoon.org

Maysak has now started to weaken as it moves west-northwest towards the Philippines. However, Maysak is still likely to be a typhoon when it makes landfall this weekend. There is still some uncertainty over the exact track of the storm, but the most probable path suggests the Philippines’ northern island, Luzon, is most at risk – including the capital Manila. Wind damage and flooding are likely, particularly in coastal areas.

Typhoon Maysak on 1 April 2015. Image courtesy of the US Naval Research Laboratory

Typhoon Maysak on 1 April 2015.
Image courtesy of the US Naval Research Laboratory

The Eye of the Storm

Air sinks at the centre of a typhoon, resulting in the formation of an ‘eye’ which is sometimes free of cloud and mostly calm. However, on occasions small scale rotations can develop within the eye causing distinctive ‘mesovortices’ (small scale columns of rotating air) in the low level cloud pattern. These can be seen in this satellite loop of Typhoon Maysak created by the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the University of Wisconsin:

http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/MAYSAK_H8VIS_064_31March_end0600_fast.gif

The Met Office works closely with counterparts at the Philippines weather service PAGASA, providing the latest information on computer model predictions of the likely track and intensity of Typhoon Maysak as it nears the country.

Official warnings of west Pacific tropical storms 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.

Met Office StormTracker provides a mapped picture of tropical cyclones around the globe, with access to track history and six-day forecast tracks for current tropical cyclones from the Met Office global forecast model, as well as the latest observed cloud cover and sea surface temperature. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.





Severe weather to affect western France

12 08 2014

A spell of severe weather is expected to affect parts of France overnight and through Wednesday morning as an area of low pressure makes its way in from the Bay of Biscay.

The  area of low pressure highlighted in the satellite image above is expected to deepen and develop before affecting parts of France this evening and overnight.

Pressure chart for 1 am Wednesday 13 August

Pressure chart for 1 am Wednesday 13 August

Forecast rainfall for 1 am Wednesday 13 August

Forecast rainfall for 1 am Wednesday 13 August

 

 

 

This brings the risk of severe thunderstorms across western, then southern France overnight and during Wednesday morning. This will bring the potential for flash flooding and will give squally winds, with disruption to local infrastructure and to holiday makers in the region. Very strong winds and high seas are also likely for a time overnight along the western coastline of France. Meteo France currently has severe weather warnings in force.

 

This area of wind and rain should then move quickly across Switzerland and southern Germany during Wednesday afternoon.





Today’s weather from above

12 03 2013

Today’s satellite images show the small areas of the UK which have snow lying, as well as a number of interesting cloud formations.

12 March 2013 Left: Visible satellite image of the UK, Right: False colour satellite image of the UK.

12 March 2013 Left: Visible satellite image of the UK, Right: False colour satellite image of the UK.

The snow shows up very clearly over the Pennines and Scottish Borders, over the Isle of Wight, southeast England and the far east of East Anglia. False colour images are particularly good for identifying snow because the turquoise colour helps to differentiate between the white of the snow and the white of the clouds.

snow2

You can also see how the clouds have lined up on the wind across southern Britain – this is a great example of cumulus clouds forming ‘cloud streets’ when the winds at the height of the clouds are strong.

cloud-streets

Over the sea to the north of the UK we can see more shower clouds moving towards us. Here we have a great example of the two different types of convection: open cell – where the individual clouds form circles over the sea; and closed cell – where the individual clouds have ‘clumped’ together across northern Scotland.

cloudconvection

Aren’t satellite pictures wonderful.





How do you like your weather summary?

12 09 2012

For the last few months, we have created weather summary videos using satellite imagery and pressure charts, along with our climate summary, to explain the weather we’ve seen in the UK over the past month. We’ve experimented with two different formats for this video – using a presenter on screen to explain the weather or a voice over.

For August, forecaster Charlie Powell explained the weather off screen.

While for July, weather presenter Rob McElwee talked through the weather on screen.





Latest weather satellite goes into orbit

6 07 2012

The latest weather satellite in Europe’s highly successful Meteosat second-generation series has just gone into orbit after lifting off on an Ariane space rocket yesterday evening.

It is now being moved into its precise position before it can provide continuous observations of the weather from space to Meteorological agencies across Europe and beyond.

MSG-3, or Meteosat-10 as it will be called once it starts sending images back to Earth, will be stationed at 0° longitude, over the Gulf of Guinea on the Equator, in geostationary orbit, where its speed precisely matches the Earth’s rotation, keeping a constant eye on developing weather.

ESA’s Director General, Jean-paul Jacques Dordain said: “This launch allows EUMETSAT and ESA to continue providing Europeans with high quality observations of weather from space, with MSG-3 being especially valuable in rapid detection and warning of extreme weather situations.”

“These programmes have ensured high-quality weather forecasts, the successive generations have improved these forecasts and they have brought tangible economic benefits for and improving the daily life of every European.”

The primary instrument on Meteosat-10 is the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager, or Seviri, which monitors of developing meteorological systems by spinning the earth, line by line, to build a picture that can then be used by weather forecasters. It collects information in 12 different wavelengths, tracing information such as cloud development, temperature and movement as well as measures of humidity and temperature through the atmosphere.

Dr John Eyre, head of satellite applications at the Met Office, who contribute to the funding of the Meteosat programme, said: “Meteosat gives you a very good view of the weather happening right now. It gives you movie loops of images showing you the clouds as they develop. It’s for what we call ‘nowcasting‘, and we can use that information to extrapolate forwards for the next few hour.”

The two currently operational MSGs are used in distinct ways. Meteosat-9 builds images of the entire field of view – a full Earth disc – in 15 minutes, while Meteosat-8 rapidly scans a smaller area covering Europe, to provide imagery in just five minutes.

This allows the weather agencies to better follow the development of powerful and potentially dangerous thunderstorms in Eumetsat member states.

About Meteosat Second Generation

MSG is a joint programme undertaken by ESA and EUMETSAT. ESA is responsible for the development of satellites as defined by EUMETSAT. ESA also performs the Launch and Early Orbit Phase operations required to place the spacecraft in geostationary orbit, before handing it over to EUMETSAT for exploitation.

EUMETSAT develops all ground systems required to deliver products and services to users and to respond to their evolving needs, procures launch services and operates the full system for the benefit of users.

In addition to its weather-watching mission and collection of climate records, MSG-3 has two secondary payloads.

The Global Earth Radiation Budget sensor will measure the amount of solar energy that is radiated back into space to determine how much energy is introduced into the climate system and to provide insights into the atmospheric circulation between the day and night sides. A Search & Rescue transponder will turn the satellite into a relay for distress signals from emergency beacons.

The last of the series, MSG-4, is planned for launch in 2015.








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