Tag Archives: South China Sea

16 October 2016: The northern tropics remain restless, watch out!

The Autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere has come and gone, and as the Sun marches south of the equator overhead the southern hemisphere tropics we have started to see tropical waves and storm cells flare-up on that half of the planet.

Soon the northern hemisphere hurricane, typhoon and cyclone seasons will start to wind down and cease menacing hundreds of million of residents of coastal regions and island nations in the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian oceans.

We  in the northern hemisphere must however remain alert and be prepared, for the ‘official’ tropical cyclone seasons may end on fixed dates, but the reality is that Mother Nature will always do as she will!  Also, ocean heat content has continuously grown higher as every new year becomes the warmest of record or one of the warmest. So, conditions for tropical cyclone development have become earlier-happening, longer-lasting and wider-spread over time.

Infrared satellite image of 10 October 2016 showing various tropical waves, areas of disturbed weather, and Hurricane NICOLE over the larger north Atlantic basin
Infrared satellite image of 16 October 2016 showing various tropical waves, areas of disturbed weather, and Hurricane NICOLE over the larger north Atlantic basin

In fact, satellite imagery this morning brought pictures of a large tropical disturbance over the Bahamas looking suspiciously as if cyclonic development could be possible. This may already be affecting a wide region from Florida to the Carolinas, which were hit hard a few days ago by Hurricane MATTHEW, and also suffered a remote hit that coincided with King Tides from passage of Hurricane NICOLE at a distance.

Other satellite images of the north Atlantic basin show a tropical wave over the isthmus of Panama, another one in the middle of ‘hurricane alley’ and yet another one beginning to emerge over the eastern Atlantic from equatorial Africa, plus a nice one of Hurricane NICOLE still going strong over the open waters of the Atlantic.

Enhanced infrared satellite image of 16 October 2016 showing numerous tropical waves and storm cells reaching some 10,000 kilometers from Atlantic Waters to the Lake Victoria region in eastern Africa
Enhanced infrared satellite image of 16 October 2016 showing numerous tropical waves and storm cells reaching some 10,000 kilometers from Atlantic Waters to the Lake Victoria region in eastern Africa

Farther east from the eastern Atlantic waters, there remains a long train of tropical waves and storm cells over equatorial Africa reaching all the way to Lake Victoria and beyond. Plenty of fuel left for future cyclonic activity.

Enhanced infrared satellite image of 16 October 2016 over the Northwest Pacific showing typhoons SARIKA and HAIMA respectfully moving away from and approaching the Philippines!
Enhanced infrared satellite image of 16 October 2016 over the Northwest Pacific showing typhoons SARIKA and HAIMA respectfully moving away from and approaching the Philippines!

On the opposite side of the planet, near northwest Pacific waters there is typhoon SARIKA moving in the South China Sea toward another landwall after ravaging the Philippines, while to the east there is a strong typhoon HAIMA approaching the Philippines Sea and a possible double-whammy on that most cyclone-vulnerable country on Earth.

Life goes on, and this is the only planet we have for now, so it is prudent to pay attention, remain alert, and be prepared alway. MITIGATE!

It is the Philippines…again in 2014!

Based on the historical record the far northwestern Pacific ocean is by far the most active cyclogenesis basin on Earth. Including the Philippines Sea, the South China Sea, the Yellow Sea, and the balance of the northwestern Pacific region consistently generates the largest number of tropical cyclones on an annual basis.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) of 18 September 2014 showing tropical storm FUNG-WONG over the northern Philippines
Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) of 18 September 2014 showing tropical storm FUNG-WONG over the northern Philippines

Smack in the middle of this region sits the archipelago of the Philippines, making it the most hurricane-vulnerable country in the world. Just last week the northern Philippines were hit by typhoon Kalmaegi, and no sooner had affected communities assessed their damage and initiated recovery efforts than a new storm, Fung-Wong began battering much of the same region. Even more worrisome is the large cell of disturbed weather that is currently following in Fung-Wong footsteps aiming in the same general direction of the Philippines.

Projected track for tropical storm Fung-Wong (by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory based on NOAA data)
Projected track for tropical storm Fung-Wong (by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory based on NOAA data)

Many will remember super-typhoon Haiyan, named Yolanda by Philippine authorities, which hit dead-on in the middle of the Philippines Islands in November 2013 as the strongest tropical cyclone of record anywhere, causing upward of 6,200 death and more than US$ 3.0 billion in physical damage.

In the past ten years alone, since 2004, the Philippines have sustained at least nine major typhoon hits, which have left more than 15,000 deaths in their wake, and billion of U.S. dollars in damage  In addition this nations had seen many times that number in terms of impacts by weaker storms.  On the average the Philippines are hit by tropical cyclones 6 – 9 times per year, with most of those hits taking place in the northern regions of the country.

A characteristic of tropical cyclones generated in this region, and of those affecting the Philippines, is that they generally are rather “wet storms” meaning that they generated vast amounts of rain. As a result flooding, from flash floods in mountainous terrain, river overtopping their banks, and from storm surge, is a major damaging component and contributor to the death toll.