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.
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.