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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Quoting tacoman:
floodman you need to stop being so lazy and do your own homework dude..my predictions for 2009 speak for themselves dude..i dont see none of yours thats eveident because you are to stupid ..you have no idea whats going on in the tropics dude so clam up or post some of your own information..


hey admin, does this not deserve a ban?
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LOL,always good to start my morning off with a good laugh,Thanks goes out to tacoman
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anyway I am going to go

think I am going to ask this willow branch over here about football, after all that is about equal to asking tacoman about the tropics
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Honestly, nobody knows what will happen, only God and trust me, we are not all perfect. We can't be right all the time, it's our nature to make mistakes. I could be wrong with predicting 2-3 storms, but tacoman could be wrong in predicting no named storms for the rest of the year and he's gotta understand that it's a prediction and not a bold statement. It could effect other people say if they wanted to go on a cruise and tacoman says a hurricane is not going to hit, yet a few weeks later going on that cruise, a hurricane is headed right for them. It's not fun to make bold statements guys, don't do it, you're gonna effect a person.
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96. IKE
Quoting WoolmarketWeatherMan:
hey stormno, you also said that hurricane claudette would devastate the la./ms. coast on the weekend before you said that Drew Brees was hurt and the Saints would lose do Detroit...Idiot


Yeah, that Drew Brees prediction was a mulligan waiting to happen.
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Quoting Floodman:


Numbers, airhead, facts...the talker is you. Show me one of your posts that isn't conjecture; show me one of your posts that cites actual data and not something you thought up sitting in your grandmas basement, looking at others work...you can't, because it doesn't exist...you're all talk, airhead...the difference between you and I is that I never claimed to be a meteorologist, and you, joke that you are, claim 25 years of study. You haven't been out of grandmas basement in 25 years...done, son


JERRY JERRY JERRY JERRY lol
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Quoting tornadodude:


refer to post 76


He conveniently ignores posts that he can't answer...
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Quoting tacoman:
floodman if you would read my posts you could see all the information i provided...you need to get off your lazy douch and look up things for yourself dude..you are nothing but a big talker who knows nada about the tropics..dude get a life go back to smoking that weed..


Numbers, airhead, facts...the talker is you. Show me one of your posts that isn't conjecture; show me one of your posts that cites actual data and not something you thought up sitting in your grandmas basement, looking at others work...you can't, because it doesn't exist...you're all talk, airhead...the difference between you and I is that I never claimed to be a meteorologist, and you, joke that you are, claim 25 years of study. You haven't been out of grandmas basement in 25 years...done, son
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Quoting tacoman:
floodman if you would read my posts you could see all the information i provided...you need to get off your lazy douch and look up things for yourself dude..you are nothing but a big talker who knows nada about the tropics..dude get a life go back to smoking that weed..


refer to post 76
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Quoting tacoman:
well dude you gather valuable experience off your mistakes..you are not always going to be right ..take this season for instance im perfect wasnt wrong once..i predicted way before the season started 6 named storms...dr gray and all the experts were saying anywhere from 13-18..which is impossible in a strong elnino year...this comes from experience tornadodude you will be able to do this just give it some time...you will get better as the years roll along..
hey stormno, you also said that hurricane claudette would devastate the la./ms. coast on the weekend before you said that Drew Brees was hurt and the Saints would lose do Detroit...Idiot
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Quoting SpaceCoastGhost:
Hi,
Not having any knowledge of meteorology, I'm curious why radar in the central florida region has been showing a lot of clutter for a week or so now? The Melbourne Radar as well as the Orlando radar seem to indicate the presence of something in the atmosphere? Are these just clouds? dust? pollen? Or are both radars having a calibration issue?


From the NWS:

Is everything I see on the images an accurate picture of my weather?
Weather surveillance radars such as the WSR-88D can detect most precipitation within approximately 80 nautical miles (nm) of the radar, and intense rain or snow within approximately 140 nm. However, light rain, light snow, or drizzle from shallow cloud weather systems are not necessarily detected.

Echoes from surface targets appear in almost all radar reflectivity images. In the immediate area of the radar, "ground clutter" generally appears within a radius of 20 nm. This appears as a roughly circular region with echoes that show little spatial continuity. It results from radio energy reflected back to the radar from outside the central radar beam, from the earth's surface or buildings.

Under highly stable atmospheric conditions (typically on calm, clear nights), the radar beam can be refracted almost directly into the ground at some distance from the radar, resulting in an area of intense-looking echoes. This "anomalous propagation" phenomenon (commonly known as AP) is much less common than ground clutter. Certain sites situated at low elevations on coastlines regularly detect "sea return", a phenomenon similar to ground clutter except that the echoes come from ocean waves.

Returns from aerial targets are also rather common. Echoes from migrating birds regularly appear during nighttime hours between late February and late May, and again from August through early November. Return from insects is sometimes apparent during July and August. The apparent intensity and areal coverage of these features is partly dependent on radio propagation conditions, but they usually appear within 30 nm of the radar and produce reflectivities of <30 dBZ (decibels of Z).

However, during the peaks of the bird migration seasons, in April and early September, extensive areas of the south-central U.S. may be covered by such echoes. Finally, aircraft often appear as "point targets" far from the radar, particularly in composite reflectivity images.

The radar is also limited close in by its inability to scan directly overhead. Therefore, close to the radar, data are not available due to the radar's maximum tilt elevation of 19.5°. This area is commonly referred to as the radar's "Cone of Silence".

Though surface echoes appear in the base and composite reflectivity images, special automated error checking generally removes their effects from precipitation accumulation products. The national reflectivity mosaic product is also automatically edited to detect and remove most nonprecipitation features. Even with limited experience, users of unedited products can differentiate precipitation from other echoes, if they are aware of the general meteorological situation.
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Quoting LBAR:
1997...trying to remember what the Winter was like down South that year. Anyone remember? I can't seem to recall!


It was very unusual here in SeTx/SwLa

ICE STORM 1997
Mark David Roth*
National Weather Service
Lake Charles, LA

Link
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Quoting Patrap:
In my view,seasonal predictions mean nothing. If one cant say where or when a System will strike,its all Moot.
The numbers mean Jack Squat in the Big Scheme.


Preparation is the Only edge one can have against the Frays.


Very true

Really we could have only 1 more named storm but for all we know its a Major hurricane that makes landfall, late season storms can have large impacts too

and then as those who suffered from this late season storm, in a slow season, are picking up the pieces; whose conscious is going to be made of enough STONE to say the season is a bust?
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84. IKE
***reaches for 2nd bottled Pepsi***
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In my view,seasonal predictions mean nothing. If one cant say where or when a System will strike,its all Moot.
The numbers mean Jack Squat in the Big Scheme.


Preparation is the Only edge one can have against the Frays.
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Hi,
Not having any knowledge of meteorology, I'm curious why radar in the central florida region has been showing a lot of clutter for a week or so now? The Melbourne Radar as well as the Orlando radar seem to indicate the presence of something in the atmosphere? Are these just clouds? dust? pollen? Or are both radars having a calibration issue?
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Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:
tacoman needs to get over himself and pass the sour cream, shredded cheese and lettuce


If he can boldly say what will happen these next few months, he could .... be... god... Xp
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tacoman needs to get over himself and pass the sour cream, shredded cheese and lettuce
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Quoting IKE:


yeah...I've read some on that from the Memphis,TN discussion.


..take this season for instance im perfect wasnt wrong once..

Talk about self-glossing oneself. Hope you got some boots on.


yeah, maybe I'll mail him some A-1
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Link

Here is the state and county climate data for a certain year. Just click the county and you get your seasonal extremes with the year next to it as well. Then just tell me what year you saw your highest snowfall and years closest to average so I could tell you what the 3.4 Nino warm/cold phase was then we can try to determine what will happen this winter.
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Quoting tacoman:
well dude you gather valuable experience off your mistakes..you are not always going to be right ..take this season for instance im perfect wasnt wrong once..i predicted way before the season started 6 named storms...dr gray and all the experts were saying anywhere from 13-18..which is impossible in a strong elnino year...this comes from experience tornadodude you will be able to do this just give it some time...you will get better as the years roll along..


yes, that is highly improbable in a strong El Nino year, but........ this is no where near a strong El Nino year. show me maps that prove other wise. thanks.
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
75. IKE
Quoting tornadodude:


there is supposed to be a pretty significant severe weather outbreak tomorrow with this next cold front


yeah...I've read some on that from the Memphis,TN discussion.



#74....
..take this season for instance im perfect wasnt wrong once..

Talk about self-glossing oneself. Hope you got some boots on.
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Quoting tacoman:
u are so right stormfury nothing will form for the rest of this year..i been studying hurricanes for 25 years and i see nothing with these hostile conditions continuing...


I'm sorry, but when you can't provide even basic scientific evidence for what you're saying I have a hard time believing you've studied anything other than your navel for 25 years...begone, stormtop, you're tedious, evasive and malicious and life is too short

**POOF!**
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Quoting TheDawnAwakening:
Tornadofan, that is a good question. I just did Cape Cod, MA snowfall but if you want I could do that it will take time though to dedicate to research.


You don't have to do that for me, you know...
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71. LBAR
1997...trying to remember what the Winter was like down South that year. Anyone remember? I can't seem to recall!
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I love how he says IS, GOING TO, NOT GOING TO, ect. Sooo confident, it cracks me up. Maybe tacoman is god??? :P
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Noticed a few questions yesterday on the blog on the QBO and its possible affects on the atlantic tropics this season. For the most part the west phase of the QBO is linked to a 34% increase in total storms over the number seen in the QBO east years. The mean intensity, however, is not significantly correlated to the QBO phase.

Here are a few papers/references which can help you futher understand.

http://www.aoml.noaa...ntic/index.html

http://www.bom.gov.a...e/ch5/ch5_3.htm

http://www.phys.ocea...r/giorgetta.pdf

Hope I've been of help. adrian
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Quoting IKE:


Looks like a break early to mid next week..warmer temps in the east and possibly a significant low the end of next week around the New England area.


there is supposed to be a pretty significant severe weather outbreak tomorrow with this next cold front
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Quoting tacoman:
reedzone he was saying tropical not subtropical..a big difference dude...no tropical systems in october..november gets worse..6 storms are all we going to have for 2009..


no no no, I never said tropical, I said a named storm. post 56
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66. IKE
Quoting tornadodude:


yeah, there is one coming through here on Friday, so should reach you on saturday, possibly another one coming down after that also


Looks like a break early to mid next week..warmer temps in the east and possibly a significant low the end of next week around the New England area.
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Quoting tornadodude:


ok, well first off, I didnt say a land falling system, just any named storm, and if we do not have one, I will gladly admit that I'm wrong, I've had to do it many times before haha


I stand behind you with the forecast of at least 1 more storm.
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Quoting IKE:
12Z NAM shows another cold front moving into the SE USA Friday and Saturday.


yeah, there is one coming through here on Friday, so should reach you on saturday, possibly another one coming down after that also
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Quoting tacoman:
well thats how you are going to learn tornado dude by making mistakes...you are still young and i been doing this for 25 years i have a lot of experience on you so just keep forecasting and you will continue to get better and better and learn off of your mistakes...


Well, I do plan to learn from my mistakes, and I will if I'm wrong. You have been wrong before, what have you done to learn from youre mistakes?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
61. IKE
12Z NAM shows another cold front moving into the SE USA Friday and Saturday.
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Tornadofan, that is a good question. I just did Cape Cod, MA snowfall but if you want I could do that it will take time though to dedicate to research.
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Quoting tornadodude:


ok, well first off, I didnt say a land falling system, just any named storm, and if we do not have one, I will gladly admit that I'm wrong, I've had to do it many times before haha


Not to mention Subtropical storms in the middle of nowhere, 2-3 more storms this season, put it to the test!
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Quoting IKE:
***only bad thing about popcorn is it gets between el teeth-o and is hard to get out...need toothpick...or floss***


I hate when that happens :P
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Quoting tacoman:
nothing because we wont have one dude..im so sure the season is over for the united states if we have a land falling tropical storm or hurricane i will stop forecasting all together..what will you do tornado dude if you are wrong..


ok, well first off, I didnt say a land falling system, just any named storm, and if we do not have one, I will gladly admit that I'm wrong, I've had to do it many times before haha
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
54. IKE
***only bad thing about popcorn is it gets between el teeth-o and is hard to get out...need toothpick...or floss***
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Quoting tacoman:
no tornadodude the jet stream will sink way to the south and the fronts which move into the gom will form lows on them and the snow storms possibly blizzard conditions could develop.the east coast could have record snowfall especially from the carolinas north...


so what will you do if we have a storm?
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Quoting IKE:


hey...you forgot the A1!!



my bad :P
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360

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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.