Strong Thunderstorms and Typhoon Vicente


On Monday, July 23rd 2012, strong thunderstorms rolled across the island in the late morning bringing a wind gust of 52mph to the airport as reported by the Bermuda Weather Service. This came with a brief heavy downpour and a lot of thunder and lightning. Further strong thunderstorms set up in a band oriented northwest to southeast sat over the island for hours dumping heavy rain, producing gusty winds, and putting on a vivid lightning show with in-cloud, cloud-to-cloud, and the most dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning being reported.

Reports of lightning strikes came in around the island including reports of telephone outages as a result. There may have been some isolated flash flooding around the island as rainfall rates approached 3.5″ an hour. The Bermuda Weather Service reports 0.88″ of rain, I picked up 0.26″. Interestingly, temperatures dropped significantly into the low 70s as a result of the heavy rain suggesting that these thunderstorms ingested some of the dry Saharan Air Layer to our south – this might contribute to an explanation for the gusty winds; when thunderstorms ingest dry air they can collapse sending a gust of rain-cooled air to the surface.

Further showers and thunderstorms are likely for Tuesday July 24th as a nearly stationary front simmers in the area. As a result the Bermuda Weather Service has issued a Small Craft Warning and a Thunderstorm Advisory.

Typhoon Vicente making landfall in Guangdong, China – missing the major population centers of Hong Kong, Macau, and Guangzhou. A large storm surge likely occurred in the estuaries with onshore winds near the center of the storm at landfall. (Radar Image Chinese Weather Service, July 24th 2012 3:06am local time)

Meanwhile, in the South China Sea, Typhoon Vicente explosively intensified from an 80mph, category one typhoon to a 140mph category 4 typhoon in only 6 hours just before landfall in Southern China – sparing Hong Kong and Macau a direct hit. To make matters more dangerous, this happened in the middle of the night – landfall was about 3am local time. This is an example of a near miss nightmare scenario that forecasters struggle with – an unexpected rapid intensification just before landfall in the middle of the night.

Despite the core of Vicente’s extreme winds passing a precarious 100km to the west of these major population centers, gusts reached typhoon strength in both Hong Kong (83mph) and Macau (76mph). Numerous trees were felled and there was some minor damage to buildings in these regions as the typhoon passed, flying debris resulted in over 100 injuries in Hong Kong alone.  The city was shut down for most of the morning as tropical storm force winds continued to make going about your daily routine difficult or dangerous. As damages are tallied, this may wind up being a very costly storm.

Few power outages were reported, however, little is known about the fate of the worst hit, less populated region. The storm continues to dump heavy, flooding rain across southern China’s Guangdong and Guangxi provinces as it heads west, tropical storm force winds continue near the center of the storm, at least in gusts.

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