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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Global Pinoys: Super Typhoon Soudelor (HANNA) - the most powerful storm of 2015!

Kimiya Yui sent this photo of Typhoon Soudelor from the International Space Station with the message: 
'Very strong Typhoon is moving toward Taiwan. Please be prepared and be safe'.

Super Typhoon Soudelor (HANNA:code name  in the Philippines): the Earth's most powerful storm of 2015!
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED 11:05 a.m.) — The Philippines is expected to be spared from the effects of super typhoon with international name "Soudelor" but China and Taiwan may experience its wrath this week.

The said typhoon, which  is now the strongest tropical cyclone on earth this year, entered the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on Wednesday morning and was locally named "Hanna."

At 10 a.m., the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, located Hanna at 1,380 kilometers east of Calayan, Cagayan.

It packs maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 230 kph. It is likely to move west northwest at 20 kph.

The typhoon will enhance the southwest monsoon or "habagat" which may trigger flash floods and landslides in Mindanao. Visayas and Palawan, meanwhile, may experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms. From Philippine Star

  • Typhoon Soudelor (HANNA)  underwent rapid intensification Monday and became Super Typhoon Soudelor, the strongest tropical cyclone on Earth so far in 2015.
  • Soudelor has weakened from its peak but remains a dangerous typhoon.
  • Soudelor is expected to continue to track to the west-northwest the next several days over open waters of the western Pacific Ocean.
  • This track is likely to bring it near Japan's far southwest Ryukyu Islands, including Ishigakijima and Miyakojima, as well as Taiwan and eastern China late this week.
  • Soudelor is expected to strengthen again before hitting Taiwan later this week.

From USA Today:
Food, water, cots, generators, and other federal emergency supplies were being rushed Tuesday from Hawaii and Guam to help Saipan after the Earth's most powerful storm of 2015 — Super Typhoon Soudelor (HANNA)— blasted through the tiny U.S. island in the Western Pacific.
The storm continued its violent march through the Pacific Ocean with sustained winds of more than 160 mph and gusts approaching 200 mph — the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center said Tuesday.  The typhoon was taking aim at Taiwan, China and some of Japan's southern islands, though it's expected to weaken to a Category 3 or 4 storm by then, the center said.
"There is growing concern that Taiwan and the southern Ryukyu Islands will have to contend with Soudelor as early as Thursday night or Friday with impacts lasting into early next week across eastern China," said AccuWeather meteorologist Eric Leister.
The storm slammed into Saipan, one of the Northern Mariana Islands, a 48,000-population U.S. commonwealth, Sunday and Monday. It flooded the island’s power plant, ripped off roofs and toppled power poles, the Pacific Daily News in Guam reported. Hundreds of Saipan residents are in shelters. Some roads remain impassable, and power and water service are out.
No fatalities were reported, but least 10 people were treated at the government hospital for injuries, including wounds and deep cuts, from falling or flying debris. Acting Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres declared "a state of disaster and significant emergency" there on Monday.
"Most power and phone lines are down with no power or landline service to most of the island," Philip Dauterman told the Pacific Daily News. He estimated that it could take months for power to be restored across the island.

Soudelor intensified rapidly over the western Pacific Ocean after raking through Saipan, a U.S. commonwealth in the northern Mariana Islands.

Super Typhoon Soudelor became the fifth super typhoon of this year Monday after undergoing a replacement of its eyewall, a process which occurs in all intense tropical cyclones. A super typhoon is defined by sustained one-minute wind speeds of at least 150 mph.

At its peak Monday afternoon (mainland U.S. time), Soudelor was estimated by the U.S. military's Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) to pack maximum one-minute sustained winds of 180 mph and gusts to 220 mph.

According to Tuesday's 11 p.m. EDT bulletin from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), Soudelor was no longer a super typhoon but was still the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (one-minute average) and higher gusts.

The Japan Meteorological Agency estimated Soudelor's central pressure at 8 a.m. EDT Tuesday was 900 millibars, making Soudelor the strongest tropical cyclone on Earth so far in 2015. That central pressure has come up a bit, reflecting Soudelor's slight weakening.

According to the Digital Typhoon database, Super Typhoon Maysak was the year's previous strongest typhoon, bottoming out at an estimated 910 millibars. South Pacific Cyclone Pam in March reached peak estimated sustained winds of about 165 mph (145 knots) in the South Pacific basin. 

Low wind shear and very warm sea surface temperatures allowed Soudelor to ramp up quickly; the cyclone was just a minimal typhoon 48 hours before reaching its peak intensity.

Soudelor continues to track to the west-northwest over the open waters of the Western Pacific, steered by high-pressure aloft over Japan, which is also responsible for stifling, persistent heat over the Japanese mainland.

Thanks to this upper-level high pressure system, instead of curling out to sea east of Japan, Soudelor will be guided toward Japan's southwestern Ryukyu islands, Taiwan, then parts of southeast China late this week.

Although Soudelor has weakened somewhat, both JTWC and JMA forecast a renewed round of strengthening by Thursday as Soudelor approaches Taiwan and the southwesternmost islands of Japan.

Here is the latest forecast timing of the closest approach of the center of Soudelor, according to the JTWC (all times local):

Far southwest Ryukyu Islands, including Ishigakijima and Miyakojima: Friday

Taiwan: Friday night into Saturday
Southeast China: Saturday

For now, the main island of Okinawa (including Kadena Air Base) lies at the north end of the forecast swath, but it remains far too soon to rule out a closer pass of the center of Soudelor to Okinawa. If the track trends closer to Okinawa, the nearest pass would occur Thursday night or Friday morning.

Soudelor has a rather large tropical storm-force wind field, therefore, tropical storm-force winds may still occur on Okinawa even with the center potentially passing well to the south.

Likewise, the large wind field may also bring some impacts to the far northern Philippines, especially now that the forecast track has shifted ever so slightly south of previous forecasts. Tropical storm-force winds are possible over the small islands of Batanes province, which lies north of the main island of Luzon.

A direct hit of the eyewall on the Taiwanese capital, Taipei is possible.

In southeast China, the provinces of Fujian, Zhejiang and Guangdong are most at risk of a typhoon landfall this weekend. These provinces have a combined population of 200 million.

Shanghai is at the northern edge of Soudelor's center path. However, strong winds and locally flooding rain are possible there, even if the center tracks well to the south.

Soudelor's center will most likely track northeast of Hong Kong, so the primary impact there may be an outer band of heavy rainfall. Any track farther south over the next few days may bring the center ultimately a bit closer to Hong Kong.

Saipan: Damage "Extensive"

Intensifying from a Category 1 to Category 2 equivalent storm, Soudelor's eye passed directly over the island of Saipan, home to about 48,000 residents. Saipan is part of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth.