Typhoon Bopha on course for southern Philippines

Typhoon Bopha is set to bring strong winds and heavy rain to the island of Mindanao and other parts of the southern Philippines during Tuesday. Almost a year ago Tropical Storm Washi caused devastation in this region with the loss of over 1200 lives. Typhoon Bopha is far stronger and likely to make landfall in the same place at around midnight UK time.

Typhoon Bopha has already had an impact on the island republic of Palau causing a loss of power, wind damage and flooding, although the eye of the typhoon passed south of the main island sparing it from the worst effects. After a short period of weakening, Bopha has restrengthened to the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane and is likely to produce winds up to 150 mph and heavy rain as it makes landfall in the Philippines causing structural damage, flooding and landslides. Relief agencies are watching the situation closely, ready to respond to the unfolding situation.

Typhoon Bopha is one of the lowest latitude storms for many years. Tropical cyclones rarely form closer than about five degrees of latitude (500 km) from the equator. This is because the coriolis effect, which causes storms to spin, is not strong. However, Typhoon Bopha became a typhoon at just 3.8 degrees from the equator. This makes Bopha the lowest latitude typhoon since Typhoon Vamei in 2001. Bopha continued strengthening and went on to attain what some agencies refer to as ‘super typhoon’ status (1-minute mean winds near 150 mph). This occurred at 6.1 degrees from the equator – just 0.1 degree shy of the record set by Super Typhoon Kate in 1970.

Satellite image showing Typhoon Bopha 3rd December 2012

Satellite image showing Typhoon Bopha 30th November 2012

Regional warnings for Typhoon Bopha are produced by the Japanese Meteological Agency (JMA) and the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of typhoon 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.

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