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 PcolaDan:
If you use Firefox, there is an add-on called eQuake alert. It can drive you crazy sometimes, but interesting.


Did you ever tell how your family members came out?
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September 30 is the conventional end of the Cape Verde Hurricane Season, which started August 1. The entire MDR is basically cut-off at this point.

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Quoting xcool:
tornadodude ops my bad .


oh it's fine, happy october to those in the eastern time zone
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8326
747. xcool
tornadodude ops my bad .
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The 2009 Hurricane Season repaired the judgments about a typical hurricane season that the 2005 Hurricane Season damaged.
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Quoting xcool:
.How much snow ?


no accumulation, but still, september??? well now it's october here
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8326
744. xcool
.How much snow ?
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742. JLPR
Quoting Weather456:


lol - I was about to post it.



XD
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Quoting Weather456:


Probably a decline from dmax, but I'm surprise it affected such a powerful cyclone. It it could also be some slightly cooler waters but that remains relatively high.


ah, alright, well I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8326
Quoting JLPR:
nice circulation with this non tropical low



lol - I was about to post it.

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Quoting tornadodude:


true, hmmm, cooler water? or just a cycle?


Probably a decline from dmax, but I'm surprise it affected such a powerful cyclone. It it could also be some slightly cooler waters but that remains relatively high.
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Quoting xcool:


oh matt looking at snow ;)


I want it haha my parents saw some this morning at Lake Placid, Ny
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8326
737. xcool


oh matt looking at snow ;)
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736. JLPR
nice circulation with this non tropical low

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Quoting Weather456:


I don't think so. That does not entirely involve the CDO.


true, hmmm, cooler water? or just a cycle?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8326
Quoting tornadodude:


EWRC?


I don't think so. That does not entirely involve the CDO.
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733. xcool
St Margaret Mary School slidell la
Change Tracking Station
Temp
61.5°F .
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Quoting Weather456:
Cloud-tops have warmed significantly over the past few hours.



EWRC?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8326
Cloud-tops have warmed significantly over the past few hours.

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730. JRRP
694
thanks
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to cold for me
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Quoting Chicklit:
Parma
Earth Observatory.


Wow, that's an incredible site! Thanks for sharing that...bookmarked it :-)
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Parma
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01-OCT-2009 02:20:34 -2.38 101.48 5.0 27.0 SOUTHERN SUMATERA, INDONESIA
01-OCT-2009 01:52:30 -2.54 101.62 6.8 24.9 SOUTHERN SUMATERA, INDONESIA
30-SEP-2009 10:38:54 -0.72 100.07 5.5 104.2 SOUTHERN SUMATERA, INDONESIA
30-SEP-2009 10:16:10 -0.80 99.93 7.6 85.0 SOUTHERN SUMATERA, INDONESIA
29-SEP-2009 02:04:08 -5.19 100.89 4.7 31.3 SOUTHWEST OF SUMATERA, INDONESIA
28-SEP-2009 00:26:23 -7.92 107.19 4.8 50.1 JAWA, INDONESIA
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Lafayette, Purdue University Airport
Lat: 40.43 Lon: -86.93 Elev: 623
Last Update on Sep 30, 10:54 pm EDT

Fair

51 °F
(11 °C)
Humidity: 64 %
Wind Speed: E 5 MPH
Barometer: 30.09" (1019.0 mb)
Dewpoint: 39 °F (4 °C)
Wind Chill: 50 °F (10 °C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi.
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8326

parma

okay, goodnight.
let's hope it curves out to sea.
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Parma bottomed out at 150 mph - 926 mb according to the JTWC. No surprises there, that was a definite pin-hole eye there.
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Quoting mossyhead:
there is no punishment. they happen to live in the area where earthquakes happen and like anywhere else where there is very warm waters, bad storms. it is unfortunate and sad, but they have not done anything wrong. it is part of life and we need to help them to recover and comfort them for there lost ones.


I recognize the area they reside in, but the quick succession of all these disasters is just amazing in recent days.
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updated 8:45 a.m. PT, Thurs., March. 19, 2009
NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga - Scientists sailed Thursday to inspect an undersea volcano that has been erupting for days near Tonga — shooting smoke, steam and ash thousands of feet into the sky above the South Pacific ocean.

Authorities said Thursday the eruption does not pose any danger to islanders at this stage, and there have been no reports of fish or other animals being affected.

Spectacular columns are spewing out of the sea about 6 miles from the southwest coast off the main island of Tongatapu — an area where up to 36 undersea volcanoes are clustered, geologists said.

Trade winds continued to blow gas and steam away from the island Thursday.

No warnings yet
Tonga's police deputy commander Taniela Faletau said coastal villages close to the roiling ocean site were not yet at risk and that no warnings had been issued.

Police were waiting for a government team of officials and scientists to survey the area and report on their observations before taking any action.

Coastal residents said the steam and ash column first appeared on Monday morning, after a series of sharp earthquakes were felt in the capital, Nuku'alofa.

"This is not unusual for this area and we expect this to happen here at any time," said Keleti Mafi, Tonga's geological service head.

The underwater eruption was taking place near the low-lying twin volcanic islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai, and within sight of the capital, Nuku'alofa.

Large amounts of pumice thrown up by the erupting volcano would likely clog beaches on the southern coast of nearby Fiji islands within a short time, Mafi said.

Tonga, a 170-island archipelago about halfway between Australia and Tahiti, is part of the Pacific "ring of fire" — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching from Chile in South America through Alaska and down through Vanuatu to Tonga.
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 3 Comments: 1605
look like the feeder bands is going to hit the phillipines real soon. a lot of rain is in the feeder bands, so they will be hit hard by rain before the main storm hits them.
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srq 69.8 nice
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Don't remember it, but according to my father, we were out in the street in the eye of a typhoon in Taipei when I was a tot.

Yes, my mom was pissed from her account.
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Quoting PcolaDan:
If you use Firefox, there is an add-on called eQuake alert. It can drive you crazy sometimes, but interesting.


that is actually really neat, thanks
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8326
Here's the Wunderground weather page for Taiwan.
TaiPeiAirport

One model?
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Quoting cchsweatherman:
Just in utter shock just watching the continued death and destruction that Mother Nature is bringing to the Oceania region over the past few days and in the days to come. Never has there been a time I can remember where there were so many varied natural disasters occurring in one isolated region in the world. I'm really praying for the people in that region since they have been getting punished by Mother Nature. And to anyone who may reside or have interests in that region, I send my best wishes and hope that things improve and that recovery will be rather swift.
there is no punishment. they happen to live in the area where earthquakes happen and like anywhere else where there is very warm waters, bad storms. it is unfortunate and sad, but they have not done anything wrong. it is part of life and we need to help them to recover and comfort them for there lost ones.
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Just can't win.....I have friends in the Philippines and family in Taiwan, I think they've had enough for this season....
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Gotta feel for those folks in W-Pac...
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Quoting Melagoo:
Taiwan will take a major beating too


I'm really crossing my fingers that the ridge builds back in before it hits the areas devastated by Morakot.
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Quoting Chicklit:
This is a news report on the latest earthquake.
Very serious.
Link


I feel like I want to scream at our media and geologists. I keep hearing there was no warning but over there their warnings are clearer than ours.
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 3 Comments: 1605
Quoting AussieStorm:

I can not imagine the impact Parma might have on central/northern Luzon, I no the areas well and in central Luzon its practically flat like a pancake, Northern Luzon is very mountainous where a lot of illegal logging has taken place. My wife is very worried about her family there. Please remember all the people in your prays.


Yeah, the topography of the Philippines is just the prototypical recipe for disaster when it comes to tropical cyclones. Moreso than most other places, they are especially susceptible to flooding and mud/land slides since the angle most tropical cyclones take into the Philippines, the barren mountainous terrain in the northern islands and the southern islands will not only act as a funnel for winds in the central islands, but it will also serve to produce increased runoff and dangerous landslides in both directions.
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Quoting somemalayguy117:
I think 18W is absorbed by Melor.

18w was absorbed by Parma
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
Taiwan will take a major beating too
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Quoting JRRP:
15mph ? and is TD?
what the co�o is that ??
I think 18W is absorbed by Melor.
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2009 Storms
All Active Year


Atlantic

East Pacific
91E.INVEST

Central Pacific

West Pacific
20W.MELOR
19W.PARMA

Indian Ocean
90B.INVEST
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Quoting btwntx08:

am not saying its funny but everyone is worrying its possible impact on the Philippines

I can not imagine the impact Parma might have on central/northern Luzon, I no the areas well and in central Luzon its practically flat like a pancake and are still flooded from the Ketsana, Northern Luzon is very mountainous where a lot of illegal logging has taken place. My wife is very worried about her family there. Please remember all the people in your prays.
Northern Luzon


Central Luzon

Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
Quoting JRRP:
15mph ? and is TD?
what the co�o is that ??



18W is gone it got in eat in up
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AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI


See comments section for the Comedy
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Quoting btwntx08:

am not saying its funny but everyone is worrying its possible impact on the philipines


why wouldnt we worry about it hitting the Philippines???
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8326
This is a news report on the latest earthquake.
Very serious.
Link
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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.