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 Chapala brings flooding rains to Yemen

3 11 2015

Our blog yesterday reported on the imminent landfall of Cyclone Chapala which was located in the Gulf of Aden. As expected the cyclone made landfall over Yemen in the early hours of Tuesday UK time. Winds averaged over one minute were estimated to be near 75 mph at landfall which is equivalent to a category 1 hurricane.

However, it is the rainfall which poses the biggest threat. The coastal strip of Yemen is usually very dry with approximately 50mm (2”) rain per year. Chapala is likely to produce 100-200mm widely and as much as 500mm in some locations. Although Chapala has weakened to a tropical storm it has become very slow-moving near the coast which increases the threat from heavy rainfall.

Cyclone Chapala at 0715 UTC on 03 November 2015 Image courtesy of NASA

Cyclone Chapala at 0715 UTC on 03 November 2015
Image courtesy of NASA

Observing stations are few and far between in this part of the world, but images and videos being posted in online media indicate that flooding is occurring in populated areas under the path of the cyclone such as the city of Al Mukalla.

The last time heavy rains from a tropical cyclone occurred in this region was 2008. This event caused much destruction and loss of life even though it was only classified as a tropical depression. Cyclone Chapala was a much stronger cyclone and thus has a much greater potential for disruption and damage.

Given the disruption caused by Cyclone Chapala, there is heightened interest in an area of disturbed weather developing to the west of India. This has the potential to develop into a tropical storm and latest forecasts suggest it will move west across the Arabian Sea. It is too early to be sure about the likely intensity and precise track of this disturbance, but it is being watched closely for further development.

Image of Arabian Sea at 1130 UTC on 03 November 2015 Image courtesy of US Naval Research Laboratory

Image of Arabian Sea at 1130 UTC on 03 November 2015
Image courtesy of US Naval Research Laboratory

Official warnings for the latest tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea are produced by the India Meteorological Department. 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.





The impacts of Typhoon Koppu

19 10 2015

Typhoon Koppu made landfall in the early hours of Sunday (local time) close to Casiguran in northern Philippines as an intense Typhoon. At landfall it was equivalent to a category 4 Hurricane with sustained winds averaged over a minute estimated to be close to 155 mph with gusts near 185 mph. There were reports of significant storm surge/large waves.

Through Sunday Koppu tracked slowly west across Luzon and was near San Fernando this morning (Monday) where it was downgraded to a Tropical Storm. It is expected to continue slowly across the north of Luzon through Monday and much of Tuesday.

Satellite image courtesy of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Satellite image courtesy of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Rainfall and flooding are now the main threat with torrential rain forecast in areas over the next 48 hours. 238mm was recorded in the city of Baguio in just 6 hours earlier today.  Total rainfall from Saturday to Tuesday could be as high as 1500mm in places. Several dams are at risk of overflowing and there is a significant landslide risk in the coming days.

There is considerable uncertainty in the track of Koppu as it clears the Philippines later this week. Some models take this system north, perhaps strengthening into a typhoon again and producing a risk of flood impacts in parts of Taiwan. However, it is possible Koppu could move north-east avoiding any impact on Taiwan, but posing a threat to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.





Typhoon Koppu heads to the Philippines

16 10 2015

The very active tropical cyclone season in the North Pacific Ocean is continuing with the development of typhoons Koppu and Champi in the last few days. Typhoon Champi has just crossed the Mariana Islands, but is not expected to threaten land further in the near future. However, Typhoon Koppu is bearing down on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.

Typhoons Koppu (left) and Champi (right) at 0900 UTC on 16 October 2015 Image courtesy of the Japanese National Institute for Informatics

Typhoons Koppu (left) and Champi (right) at 0900 UTC on 16 October 2015
Image courtesy of the Japanese National Institute for Informatics

Based on latest forecasts the centre of the typhoon is likely to make landfall late on Saturday night, UK time.

However, with Typhoon Koppu the greater threat could come from heavy rainfall. Forecasts currently suggest that the typhoon will become slow moving over the Philippines and could take anything between two and five days to move away from Luzon.

The wind is expected to be destructive close to the eye as it comes onshore, with sustained winds likely to be 115mph and gusts to 160mph.  Whilst the winds should weaken after landfall, rainfall will continue and be particularly heavy on the slopes of the high ground in northern Luzon. It is estimated that as much as a metre of rainfall could occur in this area which is likely to bring flooding and mudslides. A storm surge is expected near the eye of the storm.

Further south the capital Manila, which is located on lower ground on a west facing bay, could receive over 200mm rain and be subject to coastal flooding due to the strong westerly winds on the southern flank of the typhoon forcing water into the bay.

Typhoon Koppu at 0732 UTC on 16 October 2015 Image courtesy of NOAA

Typhoon Koppu at 0732 UTC on 16 October 2015
Image courtesy of NOAA

Elsewhere in the Pacific it is possible that two further tropical storms could develop in the coming days in addition to Typhoons Koppu and Champi, although no immediate impact on land areas is expected. Looking a little further ahead, some computer models expect a tropical storm to develop in the Gulf of Mexico later next week, but it is too early to give precise predictions of track and impacts at this stage.

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.

 





Typhoon Dujuan strikes Taiwan

28 09 2015

Typhoon Dujuan has today (Monday 28 September) made landfall over Taiwan on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean with sustained winds well in excess of 100 mph. Dujuan is expected to drop large amounts of rainfall – 500mm is possible – over the mountainous interior of the island which could result in serious flooding and landslides. Within the first few hours of the typhoon affecting Taiwan 142mm of rainfall has already been recorded in Taipei.

Dujuan comes just seven weeks after Typhoon Soudelor struck the same part of northern Taiwan with a similar intensity. Soudelor caused flooding, destruction due to strong winds and some loss of life. Dujuan is expected to take a similar track to Soudelor – crossing the Taiwan Strait and reaching the Pacific coast of mainland China tomorrow (Tuesday 29 September) before moving inland.

Typhoon Dujuan just prior to landfall on 28 September 2015 Image courtesy of JMA

Typhoon Dujuan just prior to landfall on 28 September 2015
Image courtesy of JMA.

Typhoon Dujuan after making landfall on 28 September 2015 Image courtesy of MTSAT

Typhoon Dujuan after making landfall on 28 September 2015
Image courtesy of MTSAT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dujuan and Soudelor are two of many strong typhoons and hurricanes which have occurred across the Pacific Ocean this year. One of the main contributing factors to the high level of storm activity is the strong El Niño which has developed. This is characterised by a marked warming of the tropical east Pacific Ocean. A strong El Niño can alter weather patterns in many parts of the world and in particular results in increased Pacific tropical cyclone activity. The last time an El Niño of the current strength occurred was in 1997-8 when high levels of Pacific tropical cyclone activity were also experienced.

In total there have been 43 tropical cyclones across the whole of the Pacific Ocean this year. 19 of these have acquired ‘major’ status – category 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The northern hemisphere season usually continues through October and November and in some seasons extends into December as well.

In addition to Typhoon Dujuan there are also two other tropical storms in the Pacific at present. Tropical Storm Niala is located in the central Pacific just south of Hawaii. It is not expected to impact Hawaii directly as it gradually weakens. The central part of the North Pacific Ocean surrounding Hawaii has seen a record number of tropical storms form this season, although Hawaii itself has avoided a direct strike from any of the storms so far.

Over in the far eastern Pacific Ocean Tropical Storm Marty is just under hurricane strength and is moving slowly towards the coast of Mexico. It is not certain yet whether Marty will make landfall, but a tropical storm watch has been issued for coastal areas including the resort of Acapulco.

Official warnings for the latest tropical cyclones in the western North Pacific are produced by the Japan Meteorological Agency. Central Pacific warnings are issued by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and east Pacific and Atlantic warnings by the US National Hurricane Center. 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.





Active Pacific tropical cyclone season continues

2 09 2015

Early September marks the half way point in the northern hemisphere tropical cyclone season and is often the time when we see the highest levels of activity – so how is this season shaping up?

As reported in a news release last week, tropical cyclone activity across the north Pacific has been extremely high this year with numerous intense typhoons in the west Pacific and hurricanes in the east Pacific. These are different names for the same thing – hurricanes occur east of the International Dateline and typhoons to the west.

There has been a fair amount of discussion recently in social and news media as to how ‘record-breaking’ this season has been so far. Reliable records only go back to about the 1960s or 1970s when satellite coverage of the tropical oceans became available. However, bearing this in mind, here are some of the remarkable statistics for the year up to 1st September:

  • There have been 15 tropical cyclones in the northern hemisphere reaching category 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale – 6 more than the previous record.
  • Tropical cyclone activity across the northern hemisphere as measured by Accumulated Cyclone Energy (a combined measure of intensity and longevity) is 200% of normal and over 20% above any other year.
  • Six hurricanes have crossed the central Pacific region – more than any other year.
  • Three north Pacific hurricanes have crossed the International Dateline – more than any other year.
  • Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena were all at category 4 simultaneously in the Pacific east of the International Dateline – the first time three major hurricanes have been recorded at the same time in this region.
IDL TIFF file

(L-R) Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena on 30 August 2015. Image courtesy of NASA.

Why the high levels of tropical cyclone activity?

One of the main contributing factors is the strong El Niño which has developed. This is characterised by a marked warming of the tropical east Pacific Ocean. Temperature anomalies here are currently at their highest since 1997-98, when high levels of Pacific tropical cyclone activity were also experienced.

What about the Atlantic?

The existence of El Niño conditions usually results in a quiet Atlantic hurricane season. This is primarily as a result of strong wind shear (winds varying in strength and direction with height) across large parts of the region. There have been six Atlantic tropical storms so far this season. Recently Danny became a major hurricane just east of the Caribbean, but quickly succumbed to the strong wind shear as it entered the Caribbean Sea. Erika threatened to develop into a hurricane, but again dissipated in the Caribbean due to a combination of high wind shear and interaction with islands such as Hispaniola.

In the far eastern Atlantic, conditions were favourable enough for a hurricane to quickly spin up as a cluster of thunderstorms moved off the west coast of Africa a few days ago. Fred became the most easterly forming hurricane in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the first recorded hurricane to hit the Cape Verde Islands since 1892. However, as Fred has continued to move north-westwards it has also been subject to strong wind shear and is weakening rapidly.

What about the rest of the year?

Seasonal model predictions suggest that the strong El Niño will persist for several months to come. Hence it is likely that the high tropical cyclone activity in the Pacific will continue for the remainder of the season. The Atlantic is expected to have a quiet season overall, but this does not exclude the possibility of the development of a major hurricane. There are notable instances of damaging hurricanes occurring in otherwise quiet seasons such as Hurricane Andrew in 1992 which caused devastation in Miami, Florida.

Official warnings for the latest tropical cyclones in the western North Pacific are produced by the Japan Meteorological Agency. Central Pacific warnings are issued by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and east Pacific and Atlantic warnings by the US National Hurricane Center. 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.

Statistics on recent northern hemisphere tropical cyclone activity are courtesy of Dr. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University (@philklotzbach).





Typhoon heads for Japanese volcano

23 08 2015

Typhoon Goni, which was located just east of Taiwan on Sunday morning, is expected to track across the western side of Kyushu Island in SW Japan through Monday.  There is a risk it could bring up to 200mm of rainfall in 24 hours across Kyushu, leading to a risk of flooding and landslides along with the threat of Hurricane Force winds and a storm surge.  This comes as the Japanese Meteorological Agency issues a level 4 alert for a major volcanic eruption on Mount Sakurajima.

Mount Sakurajima is one of 16 ‘Decade Volcano’ around the globe, meaning that it is a potentially destructive volcano close to populated areas. The level of alert suggests that the local population should prepare for evacuation, which would be made more difficult by a Typhoon impact.

Satellite image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Satellite image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Typhoon Goni has already bought heavy rainfall and Typhoon strength winds across the NE tip of Luzon in the northern Philippines.  Goni is expected to remain a Strong Typhoon (equivalent of a Category 2 Hurricane) with sustained winds of 80 knots and gusts to 115 knots, tracking steadily north through the rest of Sunday and Monday across the eastern East China Sea.  There is a risk of a storm surge and coastal flooding up through Kagoshima Bay in southern Kyushu.

Once Goni passes across western Japan, it is likely to lose its tropical characteristics, but could still bring flooding rains to the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday.

 





Taiwan preparing for violent Typhoon

4 08 2015

A Typhoon is expected to bring flooding to parts of Taiwan and eastern China later this week with 500-700mm of rain forecast. Typhoon Soudelor is at the moment moving through the northwestern Pacific Ocean and looks likely to track across central Taiwan on Friday before making landfall over eastern China as it weakens.

This is a violent typhoon and is presently 500 miles to the west of the Northern Mariana Islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean and is moving towards Taiwan. Currently surface wind speeds are estimated to be 130 mph with gusts of 190 mph, although these speeds are likely to ease slightly before reaching Taiwan.

Picture courtesy of Japanese Meteorological Agency

Picture courtesy of Japanese Meteorological Agency

This storm brings the threat of a storm surge and high waves to coastal areas of Taiwan and the southern Ryukyu Islands by Friday, as well as very strong winds quite widely, including to the capital of Taiwan, Taipei. Torrential rain is also expected which will bring a risk of significant flooding with the potential for 500-700mm rain falling in some areas in a 24 hour period.

The exact track of the storm could change over the coming days; you can see the latest track of Typhoon Soudelor through Storm Tracker and by following @metofficestorms on Twitter.





Typhoon Nangka makes landfall over Japan

16 07 2015

In our blogs of 9 July and 13 July we described how the developing El Niño and a cyclical phenomenon known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation have combined to produce a period of high tropical cyclone activity in the Pacific. Nine storms developed inside two weeks – Linfa, Chan-hom, Raquel, Nangka, Ela, Halola, Iune, Dolores and Enrique. This is the highest number of Pacific tropical cyclones to form inside a two week period since 1968.

Typhoon Nangka on 16 July 2015. Image courtesy of The US Naval Research Laboratory.

Typhoon Nangka on 16 July 2015. Image courtesy of The US Naval Research Laboratory.

Typhoon Nangka formed almost two weeks ago close to the International Dateline and made a steady westward journey peaking in strength with winds of near 150 mph. It then turned north and started to weaken, but is now making landfall over southern Japan, still at typhoon strength.

Japan can sometimes receive several typhoon strikes in a season, but each time they bring much disruption and some destruction through a combination of wind, surge and rainfall. It is often the rainfall that can be most devastating as the typhoon draws huge amounts of moisture from the warm tropical ocean and deposits it over land.

Kamikitayama in southern Honshu has recorded 438.5 mm (17.3”) rain in a period of 24 hours and this is before the eye of Typhoon Nangka has even made landfall. It is possible that some locations could record over 600 mm of rain by the time the typhoon has passed. To put that into context, that’s more than the yearly rainfall for some parts of east England.

Typhoon Nangka Radar Image at 1255 (UK time) 16 July 2015 showing rainfall intensity. Image courtesy of The Japan Meteorological Agency.

Typhoon Nangka Radar Image at 1255 (UK time) 16 July 2015 showing rainfall intensity. Image courtesy of The Japan Meteorological Agency.

As Nangka crosses the islands of Shikoku and Honshu it is expected to weaken, but continue to produce heavy rain. Once over the Sea of Japan, Nangka is likely to make a rightwards turn and so could affect parts of northern Japan before finally dissipating.

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.





Multiple tropical cyclones in the Pacific

9 07 2015

The Pacific Ocean has seen a lot of early season tropical cyclone activity with a total of 11 cyclones forming before the end of June. This included some intense systems such as typhoons Higos, Maysak, Noul and Dolphin in the west Pacific and hurricanes Andres and Blanca in the east Pacific.

After a brief respite, early July has seen the development of further tropical cyclones across the Pacific Ocean triggered by a cyclical phenomenon known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). The MJO is a pulse of cloud and rain which works its way eastwards around the globe in tropical regions. It often is seen to start in the Indian Ocean before crossing into the Pacific Ocean and occurs on a timescale of 30 to 60 days. The magnitude of the MJO will vary, but the event which moved into the western Pacific early in July has been very strong. A strong MJO produces conditions which are very conducive for tropical cyclone formation.

At the start of the month, the MJO event resulted firstly in the spinning up of twin cyclones – storms either side of the equator at the same longitude. Chan-hom formed in the north Pacific, whilst Raquel developed south of the equator. Raquel brought unseasonal heavy rain to the Solomon Islands before dissipating.

Left to right - Typhoons Linfa, Chan-hom and Nangka on 9 July 2015. Image courtesy of The National Institute of Informatics.

Left to right – Typhoons Linfa, Chan-hom and Nangka on 9 July 2015.
Image courtesy of The National Institute of Informatics.

Chan-hom has continued to develop into a typhoon and has been joined by Typhoon Linfa to the west and Typhoon Nangka to the east as seen in the satellite image.

Linfa has just made landfall over southern China and is expected to bring stormy conditions to Hong Kong in the next day or so. Chan-hom is expected to pass close to the Japanese island of Okinawa before making landfall over eastern China. Nangka is currently over open ocean, but could affect south-western Japan in a few days time.

The tropical cyclone activity does not end there, however. As the MJO event moves east it is set to trigger more tropical cyclones in the central and eastern Pacific. Tropical Storm Ela has already formed and is set to pass just north of Hawaii in the next few days. There is also the indication from computer forecast models that one or two more tropical cyclones could develop in the eastern side of the Pacific in the next week.

The strong westerly winds associated with the latest MJO event are helping to enhance the developing El Niño by pushing warm waters in the western Pacific towards the east. A strong El Niño tends to promote tropical cyclone activity in the Pacific whilst suppressing it in the Atlantic.

Conditions are very unfavourable for the development of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic at present and we expect this to continue for much of the season. However, whilst activity is expected to be below average, this does not exclude the possible development of a few hurricanes in this region during the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, the Pacific is expected to see continued above average levels of tropical cyclone activity.

Official warnings for the latest tropical cyclones are produced by the Japan Meteorological Agency and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. 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.








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