Cyclone Ita making landfall over Queensland

11 04 2014

A cyclone is making landfall over Queensland, Australia with winds of up to 145 mph expected, together with heavy rain and a storm surge which is likely to cause disruption for coastal communities.

Forecasts have been successfully predicting the track of Cyclone Ita for several days which has allowed time for preparations – including evacuations from the areas directly in its path. Landfall is expected near Cape Flattery, about 130 miles north of Cairns.

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Image of Cyclone Ita (credit: Naval Research Laboratory)

Whilst Ita is making landfall over a relatively unpopulated part of Queensland and some weakening is expected, it is likely that the cyclone will turn south and move parallel to the coast before moving back over the ocean. Thus population centres further south such as Cairns, Innisfail and Townsville may see some impacts from the cyclone.

Latest forecast track of Ita from the Bureau of Meteorology

Latest forecast track of Ita from the Bureau of Meteorology

Ita is the strongest cyclone to make landfall over Queensland since Cyclone Yasi in February 2011. Yasi caused extensive flooding and wind damage in the region just south of Cairns.

Regional warnings for Cyclone Ita are produced by the Bureau of Meteorology. 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 the history of their respective storm tracks. There are also forecast tracks from the Met Office global forecast model out to six days ahead for current tropical cyclones, as well as the latest observed cloud cover and sea surface temperature. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.





Typhoon Haiyan heading for the Philippines

6 11 2013

Typhoon Haiyan is set to make landfall over the central Philippines on Friday bringing extremely strong winds and heavy rain to the region.

Typhoon Haiyan approaching the Philippines 6 November 2013

Typhoon Haiyan approaching the Philippines 6 November 2013. Image from US Naval Research Laboratory.

Typhoon Haiyan is the 11th typhoon to form in the west Pacific during an exceptionally active period in the last seven weeks. China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea have all been struck by Haiyan’s predecessors. Furthermore, Cyclone Phailin, which developed in the Bay of Bengal, struck north-eastern India in October bringing damaging winds and storm surge. Accurate forecasts, combined with well executed warning and evacuation procedures, meant that the loss of life was relatively low.

It is almost a year since the devastating Typhoon Bopha hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao causing much destruction and the loss of over 1,000 lives. Haiyan is a similar strength to Typhoon Bopha with winds near 160 mph – equivalent to a category 5 hurricane. Heavy rain, storm surge and mudslides will be an additional hazard as the typhoon makes landfall over the Philippine islands of Samar and Leyte on Friday.

Forecast track of Typhoon Haiyan from the Japan Meteorological Agency

Forecast track of Typhoon Haiyan from the Japan Meteorological Agency

Regional warnings for Typhoon Haiyan 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.

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 Unified Model and latest observed cloud cover and sea surface temperature. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.

 





The severe storm this weekend and why it’s not a hurricane

26 10 2013

There is much coverage of the storm heading our way later this weekend with mentions of it being a ‘hurricane’. This is not strictly correct as we don’t get hurricanes in the UK and this is why.

Hurricanes are warm latitude storms; they draw their energy from warm seas and can only begin to form where the ocean is warmer than 26 degrees Celsius or so, and can really only become a major storm when the sea is warmer than 28 degrees Celsius. That’s like a warm bath, so you won’t find one around the UK anytime soon!

Other limitations, like wind patterns in the upper atmosphere and the forces caused by the Earth’s rotation, mean hurricanes are normally found in an area between 8 and 20 degrees north of the equator.

You can find a full explanation of what hurricanes are and how they form on our What are hurricanes? video

The storm which is due to develop tomorrow night and affect the UK during Monday is a mid latitude storm, the sort which affect us through the autumn and winter. These are formed in a very different way – by the meeting of different air masses on what is known as the polar front, leading to low pressure (storms) forming, often around the latitude of the UK.

The storm which is due tomorrow is expected to bring very strong winds and heavy rain, and we are warning of winds gusting 60-80 mph quite widely and locally over 80 mph, especially on exposed coasts, both in the southwesterly winds ahead of the low centre and west to northwesterly winds behind it.

Winds of that strength are classified on the Beaufort scale as ‘hurricane force 12’ but that is not the same as being a hurricane. Winds of this strength could bring down trees or cause structural damage, potentially causing transport disruption or power cuts and we are working closely with the resilience community to ensure they are prepared for the expected conditions.

You can find practical advice about what to do in winter weather on our Get Ready for Winter website.





Cyclones set to strike India and the Philippines

11 10 2013

While the tropical storm and cyclone season for the northern hemisphere has been relatively quiet this year, the last few weeks has seen a spike in activity with three tropical cyclones currently active.

The north Indian Ocean sees tropical storms develop during two periods of the year – April to June and October to December.

Cyclone Phailin at 0455 UTC 11 October 2013. Image from the NASA Terra satellite.

Cyclone Phailin at 0455 UTC 11 October 2013. Image from the NASA Terra satellite.

Cyclone Phailin formed in the Bay of Bengal earlier this week and has become the most intense cyclone in this region since Cyclone Sidr in 2007. At the time of writing it has 1-minute average sustained winds of near 155 mph.

Phailin, which is a Thai word for ‘sapphire’, is expected to make landfall over the Odisha state of India on Saturday night and bring destruction from its strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge.

It is likely to be the strongest cyclone to hit India since the devastating ‘Odisha Cyclone’ of 1999, and it is possible it could be even stronger.

Meanwhile Typhoon Nari is continuing a busy spell for tropical storms in the last few weeks in the west Pacific Ocean.

With winds near 100 mph, Nari is making landfall over the northern Philippines today before moving into the South China Sea where it could continue towards a second landfall in China or Vietnam.

Behind Nari, another storm is developing called Wipha. This is set to strengthen into a typhoon and move northwards in the direction of Japan.

Landfall over Japan is possible, but at this stage a glancing blow to southern coastal regions of the country in the middle of next week is the most likely outcome.

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

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





Tropical Cyclones Batter Mexico and China

23 09 2013

September is usually the most active month of the year for tropical cyclones and the last week has seen several destructive storms develop.

Mexico came under attack last week on both its Gulf and Pacific coastlines from Hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel. Ingrid came ashore north of Tampico on the Gulf coast bringing heavy rain. However, it was Manuel which caused the greater problems. It made its first landfall as a tropical storm on the Pacific coast of Mexico producing 569mm (22.4”) rain in 24 hours at Chilpancingo in the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains. This resulted in severe flooding in the region of Acapulco. Manuel then re-emerged over sea and strengthened into a hurricane before making a second landfall further up the coast near the mouth of the Gulf of California bringing further heavy rain and flooding.

Meanwhile across the other side of the Pacific Ocean Typhoon Usagi became the strongest tropical cyclone worldwide for almost a year. The typhoon’s central pressure dropped to an estimated 910 mb and the winds averaged over 1-minute were estimated to be of the order of 160 mph. The eye of Usagi passed between Taiwan and the Philippines producing as much as 700 mm of rainfall in the highlands of Taiwan. Usagi continued its track westwards finally making landfall on Sunday over the Guangdong province of China. Hong Kong was spared a direct hit, but still experienced strong winds and heavy rain.

Satellite image of Typhoon Usagi Source Naval Research Laboratory.

Satellite image of Typhoon Usagi Source Naval Research Laboratory.

 

The latest storm in the Pacific is named Pabuk and has recently passed close to the Japanese island of Iwo To with winds of 85 mph having been recorded. The storm is moving north, but is expected to turn east before reaching Japan. Thus a direct landfall is not expected. However, Pacific tropical storm activity is expected to continue with the formation of another storm later this week in the South China Sea.

Official forecasts of Atlantic and east Pacific tropical storms are provided by the National Hurricane Center. Official warnings of west Pacific tropical storms are produced by the Japanese Meteological Agency (JMA). For more information on tropical cyclones worldwide visit our web pages or follow @metofficestorms on Twitter.

 

 





Humberto is the first hurricane in a quiet season so far

11 09 2013

The Atlantic hurricane season is usually reaching its peak during the first half of September, but so far the season has been very quiet.

Humberto has just become the first hurricane of the Atlantic season. In the last 70 years only one season has seen the first hurricane form later.

humberto_20130911_1000z

There are various ways of measuring tropical storm activity including the number of storms, the number of hurricanes and something called the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index. The latter measure takes into account both the strength and duration of storms and so gives a good indication of how active a season it has been. Whilst there have been eight tropical storms in the Atlantic so far, many have been weak and short-lived and thus the ACE Index is only running at 27% of where it would be in an average season at this time in the year.

It is not only the Atlantic which is seeing low levels of tropical storm activity. ACE Index across the whole northern hemisphere is running at 42% of average for this point in the season. There have only been two major typhoons in the west Pacific, which is an unusually low number.

It is worth noting that a quiet start to the Atlantic season does not necessarily mean the season will remain quiet. For example, in 2001 there had only been five tropical storms to this point in the season with just one becoming a hurricane. However, the remainder of the season saw another 10 tropical storms of which eight became hurricanes.

Official forecasts of current Atlantic tropical storms are provided by the National Hurricane Center. Visit our tropical cyclone pages for more information or follow @metofficestorms on Twitter.





Cyclone twins form in the Indian Ocean

11 05 2013

April to June each year usually sees the transition from the southern to the northern hemisphere tropical cyclone season.

During this time it is possible to see cyclones in both hemispheres simultaneously. Furthermore, cyclone ‘twins’ sometimes develop at approximately the same longitude either side of the equator.

For the first time since 2009 cyclone twins have developed in the Indian Ocean.

This was caused by a strong burst of westerly winds along the equator about a week ago. A large mass of clouds located in the same area initially moved eastwards with the wind.

The clouds furthest from the equator then started to curl northwards in the northern hemisphere and southwards in the southern hemisphere due to the earth’s rotation. Over time these cloud masses have consolidated and started to rotate to produce twin tropical storms.

The southern hemisphere storm has been named Jamala and is currently not expected to affect any land areas.

The northern hemisphere storm has been named Mahasen and there is a stronger likelihood of this making landfall next week on one of the Bay of Bengal’s coastal regions.

Regional warnings for Tropical Storm Jamala are produced by the Tropical Cyclone warning Centre at La Réunion in the South Indian Ocean.

Regional warnings for Tropical Storm Mahasen are produced by the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre at New Delhi, India.

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.

You can keep up to date with tropical cyclones around the world on our website or follow us on Twitter.

You can see the latest image of Tropical Storms Jamala and Mahasen at:

http://tropic.ssec.wisc.edu/real-time/indian/images/xxirm5bbm.jpg





2012 hurricane season comes to an end

14 12 2012

This year saw another active season in the North Atlantic with 19 named storms, of which 10 became hurricanes.

Both the number of named storms and hurricanes were well above the 1980–2010 averages of 12 and six respectively. However, only one of these (Michael) became a major hurricane, which is below the average of three.

Unusual season

It has been an unusual season in many respects. This is the third year in a row with 19 named storms, which is unprecedented in the historical records. Only one other season – 2005, which saw the devastating Hurricane Katrina – has experienced more named storms (28) since reliable records began in 1944.

The season has also been notable for the high number of relatively short-lived storms, with seven of the nine tropical storms lasting just two days or less. These storms contribute towards a high storm count, but relatively little towards the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index – a measure of the combined strength and duration of all named storms in the season.

Joanne Camp, a long-range hurricane forecaster at the Met Office, explained that having so many short-lived and relatively weak tropical storms was a notable feature of the season: “If you look at the long-term record, this is unusual – but it has been an increasing trend over recent years.

“It is almost certainly due to the improvement of technology, such as satellites, which allows us to observe developments over the North Atlantic in ever greater detail. This means that we are now identifying storms that could previously have gone undetected.”

Many storms – but not much power

Because such a high proportion of this season’s storms were short-lived and weak, the ACE index was only moderately above average at 127. The average is 104. Many seasons in the historical record have had a much lower total tropical storm count, but much higher ACE index,  for example the 2004 season recorded only 14 named storms but an ACE index of 225 – nearly twice  that seen in 2012.

The Met Office public forecast for the North Atlantic hurricane season, which is issued in May, continued its run of providing good guidance on the ACE index – with this year’s actual total well within the predicted range. On the number of storms, the total of 19 this year is outside of the forecast range.

Chris Landsea, Science and Operations Officer at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said: “Because we are now better able identify weak, short-lived tropical storms than we were just 15 to 20 years ago, a simple count of how many storms occur in a season is perhaps not the most representative measure of how active a season has been. Using ACE index or number of hurricanes would be a more stable measure, less prone to changes in technology during the last 40-50 years.”

Experimental forecasts run by the Met Office during the 2012 season show that there is skill for forecasting the number of hurricanes. In May 2012 the Met Office predicted that the most likely number of hurricanes to occur during June to November 2012 would be six, with a 70% chance that the number would be in the range two to ten. In the event ten hurricanes occurred.

Significant storms

The most notable storm of the 2012 season was Hurricane Sandy (also referred to as Superstorm Sandy), which became one of the largest storms on record, measuring over 1000 miles across. The storm resulted in 253 deaths (at least 122 of those in the Caribbean) and is estimated to have caused over $65 billion in damage – making it the second most costly hurricane in US history, behind Hurricane Katrina.

GOES-13 natural-color image of Hurricane Sandy at 17:45 UTC on October 28, 2012.  CREDIT: NOAA/NASA GOES Project.

GOES-13 natural-color image of Hurricane Sandy at 17:45 UTC on October 28, 2012. CREDIT: NOAA/NASA GOES Project.

The Caribbean also experienced a number of tropical storms during 2012 season. Hurricane Isaac caused severe damage in Haiti and eastern Cuba before making landfall along the northern Gulf Coast of the USA. Tropical Storm Rafael passed close to Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands. Hurricane Sandy made landfall over Jamaica and Cuba before heading to the northeast coast of the USA and Hurricane Ernesto made landfall over Central America.

No major hurricanes (those registering category 3-5 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale) have made landfall in the US since Wilma in 2005 – a near-record length of time.

Longer-term trends

Overall the relatively high level of Atlantic hurricane activity continues a trend which started in 1995, with most years since then being above-average. To assess long-term cycles in North Atlantic hurricane activity the Met Office is trialling experimental forecasts for up to five years ahead.

While this research continues, the Met Office’s hurricane experts will continue to monitor the drivers of tropical storm activity over the next few months as they prepare the first forecast for next year’s season, which will be issued in March 2013. The main public forecast will be released in May 2013.

Further details on the 2012 season can be found in this year’s verification report (PDF, 1 MB).

For regular updates on tropical cyclones worldwide follow @metofficestorms on Twitter.





Cyclone Evan strikes Samoa

13 12 2012

Towards the end of every year tropical storm activity moves from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere. The South Indian Ocean has already spawned three tropical storms including the unusually strong early season Cyclone Anais in October. Attention has now switched to the South Pacific Ocean and Cyclone Evan.

Evan formed near Fiji a few days ago and moved north-east as it strengthened. As it reached the equivalent of hurricane intensity (winds near 75 mph) it made landfall over Samoa close to the capital city of Apia. Although winds of this strength are not exceptional for a cyclone, first reports indicate considerable wind damage and flooding from a storm surge of 12-15 feet (3.5-4.5 m). This storm surge is of similar height to that experienced in New York City during ‘Superstorm’ Sandy in October.

Visible satellite image of Cyclone Evan on 12 December 2012

Visible satellite image of Cyclone Evan on 12 December 2012

Although Samoa lies within the cyclone belt of the South Pacific Ocean, the island nation has been relatively storm free for many years. Cyclone Heta passed close by in 2003, but the last time Samoa received direct strikes from tropical storms was in 1997 and 1998 by storms named Tui and, coincidentally, Evan.

To make matters worse, Cyclone Evan is expected to become slow moving near Samoa and American Samoa, producing large amounts of rainfall, before turning back south-west. Latest forecasts suggest Evan will strengthen some more and could threaten a strike on Fiji early next week.

Regional warnings for Cyclone Evan are produced by the Fiji Meteorological Service. 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.

You can keep up to date with tropical cyclones around the world on our website or follow us on Twitter.





Typhoon Bopha on course for southern Philippines

3 12 2012

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.

You can keep up to date with tropical cyclones around the world on our website or follow us on Twitter.








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