Update: Super Typhoon Drops Major Rain on Phillipines

December 7, 2014

Typhoon Hagupit with Manilla in the foreground

Background from Jeff Masters:

Hagupit is Earth’s seventh Category 5 storm of 2014
Hagupit is Earth’s seventh Category 5 storm of the year, making it the busiest year for these most extreme of tropical cyclones since 2005. In that year, eleven Category 5s were recorded (4 in the Atlantic, 2 in the Western Pacific, 3 in the South Indian, and 2 in the South Pacific.) Hagupit is the fifth Category 5 in the Western Pacific in 2014, and the fourth with a pressure of 915 mb or lower, as rated by the Japan Meteorological Agency. The last time four or more typhoons reached that intensity was 1997, when five did so. The other Category 5 storms of 2014:

Super Typhoon Nuri hit 180 mph winds east of Japan on November 3. The Japan Meteorological Agency put Nuri’s lowest central pressure at 910 mb. The extratropical remounts of Nuri went on to bomb into one of the most intense extratropical storms ever observed in the waters near Alaska, with a central pressure of 924 mb.

Super Typhoon Vongfong also had 180 mph winds south of Japan. Vongfong battered Japan’s Okinawa Island on October 9 – 10, killing 11 and doing $58 million in damage. The Japan Meteorological Agency put Vonfong’s central pressure at 900 mb at the storm’s peak intensity, the lowest pressure it has given to a storm since Super Typhoon Haiyan’s 895 mb pressure in November 2013.

Super Typhoon Halong topped out at 160 mph winds with a central pressure of 920 mb on August 3, eventually making landfall in Japan on August 10 as a tropical storm. Halong killed 12 and did $4 million in damage.

Super Typhoon Genevieve (160 mph winds, 915 mb pressure) did not affect land.

Another Western Pacific Super Typhoon, Rammasun, was only rated a Cat 4 when it hit China’s Hainan Island on July 17, killing 195 people and causing over $7 billion in damage. However, a pressure characteristic of a Category 5 storm, 899.2 mb, was recorded at Qizhou Island just before Rammasun hit Hainan Island. If this pressure is verified, it is likely that the storm will be upgraded to be 2014’s eighth Category 5 storm in post-season reanalysis.

The Eastern Pacific had one Cat 5 in 2014 that did not affect land: Marie (160 mph winds). The South Indian Ocean has had one Cat 5 this year, Tropical Cyclone Gillian in March (160 mph winds.) Gillian did not affect any land areas. Between 2000 – 2013, Earth averaged five Category 5 storms per year, with 51% of these occurring in the Western Pacific. Since 1996, only two years have had more than eight Category 5 storms in one year: 1997 (thirteen) and 2005 (eleven.)

Our database of these most extreme of tropical cyclones is of poor quality and there are not enough of them to say if they are showing climate-related trends yet or not, but the forecast is for more of these high-end tropical cyclones to occur in a warmer climate. The 2013 IPCC report predicts that there is a greater than 50% chance (more likely than not) that we will see a human-caused increase in intense hurricanes by 2100 in some regions, and the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment said “Hurricane-associated storm intensity and rainfall rates are projected to increase as the climate continues to warm.”

UPDATE from Jeff Masters in Weather Underground:

Typhoon Hagupit made landfall in Dolores, Eastern Samar, at 9:15 pm local time on Saturday, December 6, said the Philippines State weather bureau PAGASA. At landfall, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center rated Hagupit a major Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds, and the Japan Meteorological Agency gave it a central pressure of 935 mb. Moderate wind shear of 10 – 20 knots and interaction with land helped to slowly weaken Hagupit before landfall. Satellite loops show that the eye is no longer distinct and the cloud tops of the intense eyewall thunderstorms have warmed, indicating weakening. Nevertheless, Hagupit is a very large and intense storm, and will be slow to weaken. The storm brought heavy rains of 1.79″ (45 mm) in just one hour to Laoang Municipal Building, Northern Samar, ending at 10 pm local time Saturday.

Forecast for Hagupit: storm surge, high winds, and heavy rains are major threats
Hagupit will move west to west-northwest over the weekend at a slow forward speed of 5 -10 mph. The center will be over land much of the time, which will force the storm to weaken; moderate wind shear of 10 – 20 mph will aid this weakening process. Storm surge damage will be very heavy, as Project NOAH is predicting storm surge heights as high as 4.6 meters (15 feet) on the west side of Samar Island at Catbalogan. High winds will also cause widespread destruction, particularly to crops. However, the greatest danger from the storm may come from its rains. Hagupit’s slow forward speed will allow torrential rains to fall for a long period of time, and widespread rainfall amounts of 10 – 15 inches are likely, with some mountainous areas receiving 15 – 25 inches. Since Hagupit is likely to track very close to the capital city of Manila as a strong tropical storm or weak Category 1 typhoon, heavy rains of 10 – 15″ could affect this heavily populated part the country resulting in yet another billion-dollar typhoon disaster for the Philippines. Hagupit’s closest approach to Manila will likely come around 06 UTC on Monday. In addition, special lahar warnings have been put out for mudslides for two volcanoes along Hagupit’s path, Mayan and Bulusan, whose flanks have unstable ash deposits from recent eruptions. A total of 650,000 people have been evacuated for Hagupit, and I am hopeful this effort will keep the death toll relatively low.

More context. Kerry Emanuael of MIT is certainly one of the best known tropical cyclone experts on the planet. I interviewed him in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Below, here is a longer, and more recent, lecture by Dr. Emanuel from this past April, which I have not listened to completely as yet, I’ll post it for now and review it tonight when I have time.

One Response to “Update: Super Typhoon Drops Major Rain on Phillipines”


  1. Ofc a little denier troll there at the end about the little ice age. No doubt she must have prepared well by visiting wtfuwt before this talk by Kerry. And ofc a great answer from him to – its usually all of the above. It’s a major gap in the intelligence of the denier blogosphere, that there is ofc natural variability on top of any change in the physical influence that we humans might be pushing it into. And its a classic that the less we actually know about the certainty of e.g. how global a past event was, the more that is proof of no AGW happening for the contrarians. Like the bible talking about a flood, so that clearly means god is really controlling the climate…*palmface*


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