Tag Archives: Japan

2 September 2016: Eleven years later!

It was 2005 when Florida was last hit by a hurricane. In fact 2005 was an Atlantic hurricane season for the record books when a total of thirty (30) tropical cyclones were generated throughout the Atlantic basin (See map of tropical cyclone tracks in 2005, below).

Map of tracks of the 30 tropical cyclones of the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The last time Florida was hit by a hurricane prior to HERMINE's landfall earlier this morning.

In 2005 Florida got hit by four named storms, Dennis, Katrina, Tammy and Wilma. But it has been mostly quiet since then, to the point that  close to 4.0 million residents of the Sunshine State may have never experienced the impact of a hurricane except on TV.

All of this changed a couple of weeks ago when a tropical wave emerged from Equatorial Africa and started moving westward along ‘hurricane alley’ , to then move close to the major Antilles islands of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba before continuing west into the southern Gulf of Mexico. On Wednesday 31 August the system reached tropical storm strength and was christened HERMINE, the 8th named tropical cyclone of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.

HERMINE  turned toward the north and started aiming for the Florida Gulf coast, generating copious rain from southern Florida up to the Tampa-St. Pete region and inland areas. On Thursday 1 September HERMINE gradually got stronger and better organized, continuing to generate a deluge and violent thunderstorms along the length of the state while pointing at the Big Bend area of Florida’s gulf coast.

GOES EAST infrared satellite image in the early morning of Friday 2 september 2016 showing HERMINE, now downgraded to tropical storm, over southern Georgia after making landfall near Tallahassee, Florida
GOES EAST infrared satellite image in the early morning of Friday 2 september 2016 showing HERMINE, now downgraded to tropical storm, over southern Georgia after making landfall near Tallahassee, Florida

HERMINE became a hurricane by mid-afternoon on Thursday 1 September and continued moving toward the northern Florida coast, where it made landfall in the early morning hours (around 1:30 A.M.) this Friday 2 September 2016 in the Apalachee Bay area south-southwest of Tallahassee, the state capital.

The storm has weakened to tropical storm strength as it moves through southern Georgia and aims for the Carolinas and points beyond while generating large amounts of rain over a large region from southern Florida to South Carolina and beyond.

From early reports, it is clear that this tropical cyclone, which in times past would have been categorized as “just a category 1 storm” by some TV newscaster, has been a large, wet and rather dangerous storm affecting millions of residents in at least  five or six states. It goes to show, every hurricane must be taken seriously and considered life-threatening. HERMINE is not done yet, we will have to wait until it traverses the southeastern seaboard states and eventually emerges back over the ocean and dissipates while pulling away from the U.S.A. before we assess the actual toll of its passage.

As we deal with HERMINE’s impact, we must remain alert and not lose sight of the tropics in the Atlantic and elsewhere. For example, the ‘tropical wave assembly line’ in Equatorial Africa and ‘hurricane alley’, closer to us, are populated by numerous cells of disturbed weather and thunderstorms, which are seeds for potential cyclonic activity in the near term and beyond.

Satellite image over the Central Atlantic on 2 September 2016 showing Hurricane LESTER approaching Hawaii, after the state was recently hit by Hurricane MADELINE
Satellite image over the Central Atlantic on 2 September 2016 showing Hurricane LESTER approaching Hawaii, after the state was recently hit by Hurricane MADELINE

Over in the Central Pacific, the state of Hawaii has just had the impact of Hurricane MADELINE (now downgraded to tropical depression) while it braces for the expected impact of Hurricane LESTER fast approaching from the east. It looking at satellite imagery over the past few days as MADELINE approached Hawaii it was clear the high-topped volcanoes on the big island acted as a shield obstructing its progress and disrupting its structure. We will have to wait and see what target is found by LESTER over this weekend. Meanwhile, looking toward the eastern Pacific ocean we can see numerous tropical waves and cells of stormy weather over northern South America and the waters off the coast of Panama, Central America and Southern Mexico, which may fuel potential cyclonic development in coming days.

Infrared satellite image of 2 september 2016 of the Northwest Paciific, showing Hurricane NAMTHEUM impacting Southern Japan
Infrared satellite image of 2 September 2016 of the Northwest Paciific, showing Hurricane NAMTHEUM impacting Southern Japan

Doing a 180 and looking at the opposite end of the Pacific, actually the northwest Pacific, we Hurricane NAMTHEUM impacting Southern Japan. Currently the worst consequences are on the Kyushu Islands and the region where Nagasaki and Hiroshima are located. NAMTHEUM is moving generally north by northwest while generating plenty of rain in Japan.

Worrisome as these impacts and ensuing damage and danger to life are, I would like to close this by stating that we must also view them as opportunities. Opportunities to assess damage, to evaluate building performance, to determine causality, and to draw invaluable lessons regarding the resiliency of buildings, infrastructure and entire communities. This is the time when we can gain empirical knowledge regarding the factors that have contributed to damage, and the measures that were effective in mitigating the impact of these hurricanes.

Remain alert. Be prepared. MITIGATE!

It is a trio+ in the Pacific!

Infrared satellite image of 08/23/2015 showing three tropical cyclones active today from the central Pacific to the extreme northwest Pacific
Infrared satellite image of 08/23/2015 showing three tropical cyclones active today from the central Pacific to the extreme northwest Pacific

The ‘twin evils’ of typhoon GONI and ATSANI continue moving over the northwest Pacific Ocean. Typhoon GONI brushed  past the northern Philippines  and Taiwan and it is now aiming for southern  Japan and the Korean peninsula. Typhoon ATSANI has made a turn toward the north and now the northeast as it continues to track parallel to the east coast of Japan posing no direct threat to land.

Porjected track for typhoon GONI [courtesy of the U.S. Naval research Laboratory] as of 08/23/2015
Projected track for typhoon GONI [courtesy of the U.S. Naval research Laboratory] as of 08/23/2015
    Projected track for typhoon ATSANI [courtesy of the U.S. Naval Research :aboratory] as of 08/23/2015

Projected track for typhoon ATSANI  [courtesy of the U.S. Naval Research  laboratory] as of 08/23/2015

This cyclonic activity over the northwest Pacific is now joined by tropical storm LOKE to the west of Hawaii over the central Pacific ocean, which has seen plenty of disturbed weather activity in recent days, as a swarm of tropical waves and disturbed weather cells move westward after being generated over the eastern Pacific off the coast of Central America and Panama.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite image of 08/23/2015 showing several tropical waves and disturbed weather cells extending from the eastern Pacific off the coast of Central America and Panama to the central Pacific near Hawaii, where Tropical storm LOKE is now active and moving NNW toward the island of Midway.
Color-enhanced infrared satellite image of 08/23/2015 showing several tropical waves and disturbed weather cells extending from the eastern Pacific off the coast of Central America and Panama to the central Pacific near Hawaii, where Tropical storm LOKE is now active and moving NNW toward the island of Midway.

While it would appear the west-northwest Pacific basin is having an extremely busy 2015 season in terms of tropical cyclone generation, the reality is that there have been a total of seventeen tropical cyclones affecting the region since MEKKHALA developed in January of this year and hit the Philippines until typhoon ATSANI formed this August. This kind of cyclonic activity is not unusual for that region and it is in fact somewhat below average.  We need to wait and see what the next few weeks bring in terms of cyclogenesis to determine what kind of a season 2015 will be in the northwest Pacific ocean.