Two Pacific-sized disasters: the Samoan tsunami and Typhoon Ketsana

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:29 PM GMT on September 30, 2009

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The Pacific spawned another huge natural disaster yesterday, when a magnitude 8.0 - 8.3 earthquake near Samoa generated a tsunami that devastated portions of American Samoa and neighboring islands. While the ocean surface was only displaced about three inches by the force of the earthquake near its epicenter, the rupture occurred near the 10,000 meter-deep Tonga-Kermadec Trench, along a swath 200 - 300 km long. A column of water miles deep and 200 - 300 km long accelerated downward by the force of gravity (or lifted upward by crustal motion) by three inches represents an massive amount of energy released into the ocean. The quake was able to generate a 1.5-foot tsunami on the Hawaiian island of Oahu 2,700 miles away, and a 0.6-foot tsunami on the Oregon coast, over 5,000 miles away.

Portlight.org is considering adopting an American Samoa family to help out in the wake of this huge disaster. They would like some feedback from their contributors on whether to go ahead with this idea, so stop by the Portlight.org blog to join the discussion.

Typhoon Ketsana
Typhoon Ketsana has finally dissipated, but not before bringing record flooding to Vietnam, two days after creating recording flooding and chaos in the capital of the Philippines, Manila. Ketsana made landfall Tuesday morning in Vietnam between Hue and Da Nang as a Category 2 typhoon with 105 mph winds. The storm dumped up to 20 inches of rain on Vietnam, according to satellite estimates. Some rivers in central Vietnam rose above the record flood heights recorded in an epic 1964 flood. In all, Ketsana has been responsible for 41 deaths in Vietnam and 11 in neighboring Cambodia, with many more missing. At least 350,000 people are homeless in Vietnam, joining the 380,000 left homeless in the Philippines from the storm.


Figure 1. NASA MODIS satellite image of Ketsana approaching Vietnam on Tuesday, September 28, 2009. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

The death toll in the Philippines from Ketsana has stabilized at 246, with another 38 missing. Residents of the islands need to keep a wary eye on Typhoon Parma, which is expected to intensify into a major typhoon and brush the northern Philippine island of Luzon on Saturday and Sunday.

Quietest September in the Atlantic since 1997
Well, it's the end of September, and what is traditionally the busiest month in the Atlantic was unusually quiet. We had only two named storms this September, the first time since 1997 we've had less than three September named storms. There were only 6.75 days in September with a named storm, which ranks as the 4th fewest September named storm days since 1950 (only 1962, 1970, and 1994 had fewer). The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index for September ranked as the 6th lowest since 1950. The quiet period is likely to continue for at least another week, as there are no threat areas in the Atlantic to discuss today, and none of the computer models are forecasting tropical storm formation over the next seven days. I'll post my first-half-of-October outlook for the Atlantic tomorrow.

Jeff Masters

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Why was Ketsana so wet?
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Quoting IKE:


2-22-58 here.


Children of the 60's...
And Floodman (speak of the devil) #242, you got that right.
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Quoting Floodman:


Both sides are guilty of that little ploy...


I absolutely agree and I'd call the other side out, as well if I saw some crap like that
Quoting AussieStorm:
World pours aid into the Philippines
%u2018Why didn%u2019t she listen?%u2019 Death toll hits 246
No debate: Deluge due to climate change
Taiwan to provide RP with 15 automatic weather stations

From that climate change link:
1. "The massive floods that inundated Metro Manila were a chilling reminder of the need to seriously address climate change, experts said..."
2. "Civil defense chief Anthony Golez and chief weather forecaster Prisco Nilo said they were puzzled by strange changes in the behavior of the typhoons over the past two years."
3. ""When you try to scientifically observe the data, we will find this year and last year as very strange years, and we can only presuppose that this is due to climate change," Golez said."
4. ""We can't just blame this on the rain. We know this is the worst deluge in 40 years. We know there is climate change happening, there is no debate about that," Greenpeace campaigner Mark Dia said on local television."
5. "Jose Bersales, humanitarian and emergency affairs director at charity World Vision, warned that the Philippine storm was likely a taste of more doom for the world's poorest, who often are the least prepared for storms.

This has to be a wake-up call for the world as it prepares for the climate change talks in Copenhagen later this year," Bersales said.
"

Where are the experts the first paragraph spoke of? The civil defense chief? The Greenpeace campaigner? Only the lead weather forecast comes close to having scientific bone in his body...
Really, who is the expert?
All but the forecaster are a lot closer to politicians than experts of any kind. I sincerely hope no one gets their science from that publication...looks to be slightly worse than CNN, if you can believe that.
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The wave has persisted very well but I'm not going ignore the 30 plus shear to its north and west. How far will this get? not very far in terms of development.
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ElConando #235, you sold me - but, we'll see as time will tell...

And #236:
shhhhhh. I think Patrap is eating (it's taco day!)
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Quoting Weather456:
Goof Afternoon all

Behind the Samoa Tsunami


Garsh 456 goof afternoon to you too.
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243. JRRP
TROPICAL WAVE IS ALONG 47W S OF 18N MOVING W NEAR 15 KT. THE
WAVE COINCIDES WITH A DEEP LAYER MOISTURE MAXIMUM OBSERVED IN
TOTAL PRECIPITABLE WATER IMAGERY. ALSO...CIMSS WAVETRAK MODEL
GUIDANCE INDICATES A CONCENTRATED AREA OF 850 MB RELATIVE
VORTICITY CENTERED ALONG THE WAVE AXIS FROM 10N-17N. THIS
LOW-LEVEL VORTICITY COUPLED WITH AN UPPER LEVEL DIFFLUENT
PATTERN ALOFT IS GENERATING SCATTERED MODERATE CONVECTION FROM
8N-15N BETWEEN 43W-49W.

i am out
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5342
Quoting timtrice:


Katrina dropped 16 inches in Homestead, FL per the NHC's prelim report as a minimal hurricane. Why did the article not mention that tid-bit? Because if you want to shock the hell out of people who don't know better you use the worst possible example - Katrina in New Orleans.

f***ing pathetic...

I always try to stay out of these global warming/climate change conversations because I don't have a sufficient opinion one way or another. But to use bad information to claim a point? I cannot stand by for that


Both sides are guilty of that little ploy...
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241. IKE
Quoting mikatnight:


Ha! Finally caught up with you…noticed your post a few days ago
You said 51…I’m the same – 4/17/58


2-22-58 here.
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Good Afternoon all

Behind the Samoa Tsunami
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NHC is late on the TWO

Either we have a yellow circle somewhere or they fell asleep lol
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Quoting hcubed:


Actually, he's more like a SPAM taco.

With extra cheese...

By the way, did he ever answer post #76?


No, he didn't...LOL
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Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:


taco and wrap lol

very nicely done lol



Actually, he's more like a SPAM taco.

With extra cheese...

By the way, did he ever answer post #76?
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Quoting mikatnight:


Oh man, we still don't have '09 in the bag yet and you're already trying to figure 2010? lol
I'm still betting on my (albeit useless) 8-4-2 for this year!


Well a very inactive year is usually followed by an active year. It may not be 2008 active but I would expect more storms. Unless there is a hint that this el nino may stick around for longer than anticipated. As for the rest of this season, due the hot sst's in the NW Caribbean and SW gulf this season is not over until nov 30th. With a proper upswing in activity (convection) and periods of low shear , which do happen. Those two areas can easily support a major hurricane, with the proper conditions. Though in theory I doubt anything would reach cat 5 status due to the conditions, unless maybe it had an anticyclone directly over its eye and wind shear was not over 20 kts. In 1997 the SST's were nowhere near as warm as they are now. Meaning even if the environment was as unconducive for development as in 1997 there is still a far greater chance of getting a named storm in the W Caribbean just on SST's alone.
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Quoting IKE:


I'm not sure what you're talking about?

He is talking about the MJO tracking and GFS MJO forecast.

The details and plot are here: http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/MJO/foroper.shtml
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Quoting IKE:


I'm not sure what you're talking about?


Ha! Finally caught up with you…noticed your post a few days ago
You said 51…I’m the same – 4/17/58
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232. JRRP
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5342
Quoting timtrice:


That inquirer website shouldn't be listed:

More rain fell on Manila and surrounding regions in nine hours on Saturday than the amount Hurricane “Katrina” dumped on New Orleans in 2005.


Untrue. Several locations in south Florida and Louisiana received as much rain. And, why single out Katrina? There are dozens of tropical storms and hurricanes that moved at the same pace as Ketsana that dropped that much rain.

I hate these type of arguments. If you want to claim global warming or climate change then use facts to back it up. What they listed is not fact and I question anything their so-called "experts" claim

Katrina's 2 days (12 Z 28th through 12 z 30th) rainfall:

plus


Couple of areas with 16 inches (or 400+ millimeters). Not much different than Ketsana, with Katrina's rains in a 15 hour period of 10 pm on the 28th (local time, CDT) and 3 pm on the 29th. Ketsana produced (as per Dr. M's blogs) 16.7 inches in 12 hours. Very similar.
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230. IKE
Quoting TomSal:
Ike: RE #49. What is the RMM1 and RMM2 chart, where do you find it and how do you use it? Long question. Thanks.


I'm not sure what you're talking about?
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AussieStorm -
"No debate: Deluge due to climate change"

I was wondering how long it would take for that timebomb to go off...
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Quoting ElConando:
Unless we are leaving the active hurricane period it would be likely that at least 10 named storms will be in 2010.


Oh man, we still don't have '09 in the bag yet and you're already trying to figure 2010? lol
I'm still betting on my (albeit useless) 8-4-2 for this year!
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Quoting AussieStorm:
World pours aid into the Philippines
‘Why didn’t she listen?’ Death toll hits 246
No debate: Deluge due to climate change
Taiwan to provide RP with 15 automatic weather stations


That inquirer website shouldn't be listed:

More rain fell on Manila and surrounding regions in nine hours on Saturday than the amount Hurricane “Katrina” dumped on New Orleans in 2005.


Untrue. Several locations in south Florida and Louisiana received as much rain. And, why single out Katrina? There are dozens of tropical storms and hurricanes that moved at the same pace as Ketsana that dropped that much rain.

I hate these type of arguments. If you want to claim global warming or climate change then use facts to back it up. What they listed is not fact and I question anything their so-called "experts" claim
Unless we are leaving the active hurricane period it would be likely that at least 10 named storms will be in 2010.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:
"Put out for Portlight"

...hhhhmmmm....

Anybody got any contacts at the Bunny Ranch?


Do the Feds still own the one out in Nevada? Now there’s a revenue source!
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"Put out for Portlight"

...hhhhmmmm....

Anybody got any contacts at the Bunny Ranch?
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
223. JRRP
Quoting JLPR:


quickscat missed it?


I see something there =P

waooo
nice...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5342
Quoting IKE:


hey...you forgot the A1!!

Ike: RE #49. What is the RMM1 and RMM2 chart, where do you find it and how do you use it? Long question. Thanks.
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my thoughts on invest 91E:

Link
Quoting Patrap:
We are reaching a wide audience..as the Map Loco is Lighting up..Map-Loco


That’s pretty cool! You sure have lots of sources of information. Makes you sort of a sourcerer (is it true that nobody does that voodoo that you do so well?) Ok, time to get SFL on the map. Looks like we’re gonna have ta put out for portlight again (hey, kinda catchy uh?). Have to wait til my better half get home later this evening…
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219. JLPR
Quoting Seastep:
Hey all.

Thanks for the update StormW.

As additional info on the 46W area, while QS missed it, ascat did hit it at 1222Z.

Link

Also, buoy out there is now reporting SSW winds, but no significant pressure drop.

Link

Shear remains high, so nothing imminent.


quickscat missed it?


I see something there =P
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Pat....WU mail...not outtie mail...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
FYI y'all...Pat...check your outtie mail please sir...

Dear Community Leaders:

As a part of FEMA’s ongoing effort to maintain an open line of communication before, during and following disasters, FEMA will be holding a conference call today, September 30th, to discuss the disaster declaration and ground situation in American Samoa. If you have constituencies in American Samoa, we invite you to join the conference call to get an update on the ground situation and any next steps.



Due to a limited number of call-in lines, we encourage you to only join the call if you have affected constituents in American Samoa.
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
Video of the tsunami waves flooding inland (BBC)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8282882.stm
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We are reaching a wide audience..as the Map Loco is Lighting up..Map-Loco
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There beith one small eye...




It looks like it may be a close call for the already storm ravaged Philippines, and then on to Taiwan.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11666
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Hey all.

Thanks for the update StormW.

As additional info on the 46W area, while QS missed it, ascat did hit it at 1222Z.

Link

Also, buoy out there is now reporting SSW winds, but no significant pressure drop.

Link

Shear remains high, so nothing imminent.
Member Since: September 9, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 3414
Quoting Patrap:


Contact Presslord via wu-mail if that pans out Jeff,..and thanks.

I've checked into it, and the ocean transit times stink. (think 30+ days) I sent Portlight a WU-mail with the details, and what I can do to help.
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A two-year-old British toddler is among dozens who have been killed by a series of tsunami waves, which have struck the Samoan Islands in the Pacific. Follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/itn_news.

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Quoting atmoaggie:
last week:

The huge extreme el nino of 2006:

How is it that this year's nino is strong, again?


El Nino maybe weakining
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Quoting StormW:



Looks like La Nina
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Obviously the combination of all index values would have more impact on a season total then say the ENSO by itself. Now the NAO, PNA, AAO, AO and ENSO values on their respective index all had certain values for this one snowstorm that happened to be during this record snowfall season. Determining these values a few days out is a lot more accurate then predicting exactly or the range of snow to fall in this one location for a season. Now all the values which are precise for a snowstorm can have a greater affect on this storm, then say a season. Let's compare two snowstorms in the same winter season. Let's go with the 04-05 winter of the Northeast: the 12/26/04 snowstorm comprised of a positive PNA, and a negative NAO simply one reason why we saw the strongest snowstorm of the season at that time in terms of pressure(mb-hPa) as it cross over George's Bank. Now with the Blizzard of 2005 1/23/2005 we saw a positive PNA and a positive NAO. NAO would be more the measurement of the block of high or low pressure over Greenland which could have a slow down effect of the disturbances in the jet stream upstream. Now the NAO would have an effect on the duration of the storm, while the PNA would have an effect on the tilt of the polar jet stream with a ridge in the west and a low in the east at 500mb level. Since these indexes have a precise effect on an individual storm, it is hard to determine how they would effect a season overall in snowfall totals. THe neutral phase of the ENSO was on the cusp of a warm phase at the time of the Blizzard of 2005 with a reading of 0.8 in the January, February, March months of the 3.4 Nino region. The same was read for the 93-94 snow season which we saw two record snowfall totals on Cape Cod, MA for one season both winters. Now the trick is to see what alignments of the indexes and ENSO phases would determine what happened in those two winters against the average winters. However researching the information on the data collected the last twelve years of accurate info, I can determine that we only saw three average snowfall winters, while the rest were either below average, well below, or well above average. Now why would these record breakers and setters be so out of sorts for Cape Cod, MA? This is what I am trying to find out. Simply put in the winter of 1997-1998 Cape Cod, MA saw it's worst snowfall total in the 12 year period of data with 93-94 being the other one counted. We only received 3.3" of snow on average for the county of Barnstable, MA. This happened to coincide with one of the strongest EL Nino readings in the 3.4 Nino region in the last fifty, fifty five years. The value at that time was in the 2.0-2.5 range, signifying a strong EL Nino year which had dramatic effects on the world.
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WARNING AND SUMMARY 301200.
WARNING VALID 011200.
WARNING IS UPDATED EVERY 6 HOURS.
GALE WARNING.
DEVELOPING LOW 990 HPA
AT 49N 161E SEA EAST OF KURILS MOVING EAST 10 KNOTS.
OCCLUDED FRONT FROM 49N 161E TO 48N 166E 44N 169E.
WARM FRONT FROM 44N 169E TO 41N 172E 39N 173E.
COLD FRONT FROM 44N 169E TO 39N 166E 36N 160E 35N 156E.
STATIONARY FRONT FROM 35N 156E TO 34N 147E 33N 138E 32N 133E 32N 128E
29N 120E.
WINDS 30 TO 40 KNOTS WITHIN 600 MILES OF LOW SOUTHEAST SEMICIRCLE AND
300 MILES ELSEWHERE.
WARNING.
DENSE FOG OBSERVED LOCALLY OVER NORTHERN PART OF SEA OF OKHOTSK.
WARNING.
DENSE FOG OBSERVED LOCALLY OVER WATERS BOUNDED BY 48N 154E 57N 163E
52N 180E 40N 180E 35N 170E 48N 154E.
SUMMARY.
TROPICAL DEPRESSION 1000 HPA AT 16N 105E ALMOST STATIONARY.
TROPICAL DEPRESSION 1008 HPA AT 15N 143E NW 15 KT.
HIGH 1022 HPA AT 40N 138E EAST 10 KT.
HIGH 1020 HPA AT 30N 165E ESE 10 KT.
REMARKS.
TYPHOON 0917 PARMA (0917) 960 HPA AT 10.5N 134.0E : SEE TROPICAL
CYCLONE WARNING.
TROPICAL STORM 0918 MELOR (0918) 992 HPA AT 12.9N 154.0E : SEE
TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING.

JAPAN METEOROLOGICAL AGENCY.=

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Quoting Patrap:


If you direct the funds collected to portlight.org we will make quick and immediate use of them.

This is a Full all out effort in response to the Calamity there.


I think it's awesome that you guys are already trying to help.
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Quoting Patrap:


If you direct the funds collected to portlight.org we will make quick and immediate use of them.

This is a Full all out effort in response to the Calamity there.


ok, thank you!
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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