The Western Pacific Boils over with Tropical Cyclones


Tropical Storm (nearly Typhoon) Damrey approaching southern Kyushu in Japan as seen from Japan Meteorological Agency Radar August 1st 2012 10:00am JST.

Tropical Storm Damrey is about to pass dangerously close to Kyushu in Japan as it strengthens over warm ocean currents that are similar to the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic. The storm may reach typhoon strength before reaching these islands in the next 12 hours. After this point, its future is very uncertain, but it is expected to continue westward into the East China Sea then the Yellow Sea, and eventually make a China landfall north of Shanghai.

Typhoon Saola nearing the southernmost islands of Japan as seen on Japan Meteorological Agency Radar imagery August 1st 10:05am JST.

Meanwhile, further down the island chain, Typhoon Saola continues to dump heavy rain over the Philippines, Taiwan, and the southernmost Japanese islands. This storm is expected to head northwestward and pass dangerously close to both Taiwan and southern parts of Japan’s Okinawa prefecture. As it does so, the Joint-Typhoon Warning Center expects the storm to strengthen to have 1-minute sustained winds of 115mph making it a category 3 equivalent storm.  Again, past this point, the future of Saola is very uncertain, but it is expected to continue towards the East coast of China, just south of Wenzhou.

Both storms are expected to affect Japan and China in the next 5 days, but their close proximity is making forecasting their eventual tracks a nightmare. We have a very poor understanding of how tropical cyclones interact at such close proximity. Damrey is the smaller, apparently ‘orbiting’ storm to Saola – the much larger, stronger cyclone.

Further tropical cyclone development is expected as these two systems leave behind an area of troughiness over the relatively untapped West Pacific warm pool. The West Pacific basin recently had some of its least active typhoon seasons on record leaving a lot of warmth for this season’s storms to take advantage of. Its not every year that you see two tropical cyclones on radar from one country simultaneously, or find two making landfall in the same country (maybe China down the line) in the same week!

Other Useful sites include:
The Joint-Typhoon Warning Center
Japan Meteorological Agency Tropical Cyclone Page
Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau
Korean Meteorological Administration
China Weather
Philippines’ PAGASA

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