Cyclone Phailin and more Pacific Typhoons

14 10 2013

As per forecasts discussed in our blog last week, Cyclone Phailin struck the east coast of India over the weekend with winds estimated at near 130 mph.

It brought a strong storm surge along the coast and more than 230 mm (9 inches) of rain was recorded as the cyclone passed.

The cyclone was of a similar strength to one which struck just a little further up the coast in 1999, which claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Excellent forecasts for Phailin, combined with well executed warning and evacuation procedures, meant the loss of life was much less this time around.

Phailin became a tropical storm a little more than three days before landfall, but computer models were able to give far greater warning than this.

Medium range prediction models suggested a higher risk of cyclone formation in the Bay of Bengal a full nine days before Cyclone Phailin struck.

At six days ahead, shorter range models were predicting that the north-eastern coast of India could be under threat, although the timing was not certain at that stage.

Four days ahead, computer models were able to pinpoint the location and timing of landfall to a high degree of accuracy – all before the storm was strong enough to be named.

Cyclone Phailin originated from a disturbance in the far west Pacific basin and was one of a series of tropical storms seen in this region recently.

Stitched image for 0600-0700 HRS on Saturday, 12 October 2013. Phailin is on the left, Nari in the centre, and Wutip on the right. Images from CIMSS

Stitched image for 0600-0700 HRS (GMT) on Saturday, 12 October 2013. Phailin is on the left, Nari in the centre, and Wipha on the right. Images from CIMSS

Nine storms have developed in the west Pacific in the last month, including Typhoons Usagi and Fitow which struck China, Typhoon Wutip which struck Vietnam, and Typhoon Danas which caused heavy rain in South Korea and Japan.

More recently Typhoon Nari crossed the Philippines on Friday and is about to strike Vietnam. Typhoon Wipha may cause disruption in southern Japan and it seems likely another typhoon will develop later this week.

Despite this recent activity, in 2013 the northern hemisphere as a whole has still only had about 60% of the expected activity for this point in the season and regions such at the Atlantic have only seen about 30% of normal activity.

Northern hemisphere activity tends to diminish through November as the southern hemisphere season begins.

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

From Tuesday 15th October a graphical display of Met Office forecast tracks of active tropical storms will be available from our web pages. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @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.

Tropical storms update – Damrey, Saola, Ernesto and Haikui

3 08 2012

As reported in yesterday’s blog, the tropical west Pacific has been active recently with typhoons Saola and Damrey both causing disruption in parts of south-east Asia. Saola weakened to a tropical storm before making landfall over the Fujian province of China. Huge amounts of rainfall were recorded in Taiwan and mainland China from the storm. Taichung on Taiwan recorded 316 mm (12.4”) rain in just 12 hours yesterday.

Meanwhile just a few hours earlier Tropical Storm Damrey made landfall near the border of Jiangsu and Handong provinces of China. As a more compact system, it did not produce as much rain as Saola, but still packed winds of over 60 mph as it made landfall.

As expected, the high activity in the west Pacific continues. Tropical Storm Haikui has formed and is expected to develop into a large typhoon as it moves towards south-east Asia. Behind this it is likely that yet another tropical storm will form in the next couple of days.

Tropical Storm Ernesto

Meanwhile in the Atlantic the tropical depression which developed on Wednesday has strengthened into Tropical Storm Ernesto. It is still fairly disorganised, but bringing stormy conditions to the Caribbean islands of St. Lucia and St. Vincent having already passed over Barbados. There is still uncertainty as to how much Ernesto will strengthen, but it is not impossible it could become a hurricane as it continues its track westwards through the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea in the coming days.

For more information visit our tropical cyclone web pages or follow @metofficestorms on Twitter.

Tropical storm season heading towards its peak

2 08 2012

August and September are the months when tropical cyclone activity in the northern hemisphere reaches its peak. As August begins there are currently several active tropical cyclones and possibly more to come.

Typhoon Saola formed in the west Pacific and gave a glancing blow to the northern Philippines. Over 900 mm rain in three days were recorded in Baguio. There were reports of flooding across northern Luzon and a number of fatalities. Saola has now slowly moved on towards Taiwan dumping similar amounts of rain and causing flooding and mudslides. It is expected to move onwards to Fujian province of China in the next day or so.

Meanwhile to the north of Saola the more compact Typhoon Damrey has tracked just to the south of Kyushu in south-west Japan. This area is still recovering from the devastating floods of last month. The typhoon has tracked across the Yellow Sea and is set to make landfall over the Handong province of China just south of the large city of Qingdao.

These two typhoons are part of a large complex area of disturbed weather covering much of the tropical western Pacific. Another storm is forming out at sea and latest forecast suggest it could track close to southern Japan in a few days time. There are even suggestions that yet another storm could develop a few days later in the open waters of the west Pacific.

Meanwhile in the Atlantic after an active start to the season, July was completely stormless. August has started with the formation of a depression which looks set to track through the Leeward Islands and into the Caribbean Sea. However, there is a high degree of uncertainty as to whether this depression will undergo significant strengthening. El Niño conditions are starting to develop as predicted by longer range forecasts for the tropics from the Met Office, which acts to suppress Atlantic tropical storm activity by making atmospheric conditions unfavourable. It is possible that conditions may be hostile towards storm development in this region in the next few days, but it is by no means certain.

The Met Office seasonal forecast for Atlantic tropical storm activity issued in May predicted a near-average season with the most likely number of storms in the June to November period being 10. Since June just two tropical storms have occurred so far in this region.

For more information see our tropical cyclones web pages or follow @metofficestorms on Twitter.

Typhoon Nesat brings heavy rain and strong winds to the Philippines.

27 09 2011

Typhoon Nesat made landfall at about 2200 UTC 26 September near Casiguran on the east coast of the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Winds were estimated to be close to 120 mph near the centre of the typhoon and the lowest central pressure was estimated to be near 944mb. Good forecasts of the typhoon’s track in the previous two days allowed authorities to order the evacuation of over 100,000 people in its path.

Satellite image of Typhoon Nesat as it makes landfall

Satellite image of Typhoon Nesat as it makes landfall

Although well south of the typhoon centre the Philippine capital Manila received heavy rain and strong winds causing much disruption including the flooding of the main hospital and US Embassy buildings. Subic Bay on the west coast of Luzon just to the north-west of Manila recorded 350mm (13.8″) rain in 12 hours.

As of 1200 UTC 27 September Nesat was still classified as a typhoon and has started to restrengthen over the South China Sea. Current forecasts predict a second landfall over Hainan island on Thursday and over northern Vietnam on Friday.

You can follow all the latest Tropical Storm News on:

Typhoon Roke brings heavy rain and strong winds to Japan

21 09 2011

Typhoon Roke made landfall at about 0600 UTC 21 September near Hamamatsu on the south coast of Japan. Winds were estimated to be close to 100 mph near the typhoon centre and the lowest central pressure recorded was 952mb.

Rainbands extended along way ahead of the typhoon as it approached and 598mm (23.5″) rain were recorded at Tokushima (west of the landfall point) in the 48 hours prior to the centre reaching Japan. Rain and the strongest winds have now cleared from southern and western parts of Japan.

As of 1200 UTC Japan Meteorological Agency still classified Roke as a typhoon centred over eastern parts of Honshu a short distance south-west of Fukushima. Heavy rain is continuing in this region and will do so for a few more hours before clearing. It is likely to be downgraded to a tropical storm soon.

The centre of the storm is currently emerging back out over the ocean east of northern Honshu. It is expected to accelerate north-east and becomes a strong post-tropical storm in the north Pacific Ocean.

Radar imagery of Typhoon Roke

Met Office updates on Twitter: @metofficestorms


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