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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451. xcool
10:01 PM GMT on September 30, 2009



weather street.com

hi all.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
450. Drakoen
9:58 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 7.2.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 30 SEP 2009 Time : 210000 UTC
Lat : 11:32:36 N Lon : 131:39:30 E


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
5.5 / 944.8mb/102.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
(3hr avg)
5.5 6.2 7.0

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +3.8mb

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR :N/A km

Center Temp : -37.2C Cloud Region Temp : -83.1C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : SPIRAL ANALYSIS

Ocean Basin : WEST PACIFIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : PACIFIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 2.2T/6hr
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29714
449. Dakster
9:57 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting NRAamy:
I agree with you all the way. I don't want ANY nuclear explosion near me. The part that scares me is that I live within the initial blast zone of a nuclear power plant. Just outside the 5 mile circle. Every once in a while they test the "get out of dodge" sirens.

me too, Dak...I carry anti-radiation pills with me in my purse...don't laugh weather geeks...


That sounds like a good idea. Where do you get those? The best I could hope for is a monitor that just gives you advance notice that you have been exposed to too much radiation.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9768
448. NRAamy
9:55 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
I agree with you all the way. I don't want ANY nuclear explosion near me. The part that scares me is that I live within the initial blast zone of a nuclear power plant. Just outside the 5 mile circle. Every once in a while they test the "get out of dodge" sirens.

me too, Dak...I carry anti-radiation pills with me in my purse...don't laugh weather geeks...
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 316 Comments: 31944
447. hydrus
9:53 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting Magicchaos:
Looks like Parma is forecast to be a Super Typhoon by Monday afternoon EDT.
It will be a super typhoon before then.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19608
446. Dakster
9:50 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting jeffs713:

But Strontium-90 will bioaccumulate in milk. It will also work its way into steel, causing radioactive steel.

And to make things fun... Strontium-90 is mostly radioactive in beta radiation, which means it will most impact cells in the immediate radius. Think about what could happen if the fallout, containing Strontium-90, gets into our milk supply...

Might be a slight "technical issue"



I agree with you all the way. I don't want ANY nuclear explosion near me. The part that scares me is that I live within the initial blast zone of a nuclear power plant. Just outside the 5 mile circle. Every once in a while they test the "get out of dodge" sirens.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9768
445. Magicchaos
9:42 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Looks like Parma is forecast to be a Super Typhoon by Monday afternoon EDT.
Member Since: April 3, 2009 Posts: 107 Comments: 382
444. caneswatch
9:40 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting Hurricane009:
Good Afternoon!!!


Hello there Hurricane.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
443. atmoaggie
9:38 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting jeffs713:

I agree about the buffer zones.

Lets see... highly flammable substances + heat + high pressures + people = a very bad day.

A refinery going off would have a huge impact. Just look at how many people live in and around Pasadena, Galena park, LaPorte, and Texas City.

Given that you can literally see from one industrial facility to next in the "Golden" triangle, I can envision one big blow setting off a chain reaction around that area...not nearly as populated as those you list, though.
No regional planning was thought out in the "golden" triangle and the property taxes are what keep the Independent School District in each municipality open so every little town has a few of these.
End result: Some petroleum-based industrial facility every 1/2 mile spread out over most of 2 counties. Ugly place to live, in my opinion. Plus, while you don't realize it while living there, when you drive into the area it literally smells.

Aside: Sorry, SRT, if you are here. I did not like much about the golden triangle.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
442. capquest
9:37 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Hello from St. Augustine. Haven't had anything to post about this year but I still look in every day.

The temp has FINALLY gotten to the point where we can open the windows and turn off the AC.

I'm a little surprised at the animosity I see now and then. I guess it's because it been such a quiet season and there's not much to talk about.
Member Since: December 25, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 48
440. Orcasystems
9:34 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting NRAamy:
ok, so I'm still alive today...can I assume that nothing happened to the Pacific Coast last night? no big waves took out Southern Caliornia?


I am still here :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
438. NRAamy
9:31 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
ok, so I'm still alive today...can I assume that nothing happened to the Pacific Coast last night? no big waves took out Southern Caliornia?
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 316 Comments: 31944
437. jipmg
9:27 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
that thing is going straight for a CAT5
436. SQUAWK
9:23 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting NRAamy:
SQUAWK!!! I'd be banned for 96 years!!!!

:(


Me too, but it'd be worth it if we raised enough money.LOL
Member Since: December 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2498
435. Cavin Rawlins
9:23 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting jeffs713:
Quoting Weather456:
Amazing


Ok, I think that qualifies as a "pinhole eye".


I'm thinking so too.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
434. NRAamy
9:22 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
SQUAWK!!! I'd be banned for 96 years!!!!

:(
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 316 Comments: 31944
433. jeffs713
9:21 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting Weather456:
Amazing


Ok, I think that qualifies as a "pinhole eye".
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
432. Orcasystems
9:21 PM GMT on September 30, 2009


Not dead yet
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
431. jeffs713
9:19 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting atmoaggie:

I think it was 89...the year Exxon in BR went kablooey. (which was attributed to some pipe coupling not able to handle the thermal (un)expansion of single digit weather)
Radio signal dies, 10 seconds later the windows/walls start rattling in tune with the dishes in the kitchen cabinets, 15 seconds of shake from 10 miles away.
Ya know how our military installations and some airports have a mandated buffer zone? I think the same should have been put in place 100 years ago around the refineries.

I agree about the buffer zones.

Lets see... highly flammable substances + heat + high pressures + people = a very bad day.

A refinery going off would have a huge impact. Just look at how many people live in and around Pasadena, Galena park, LaPorte, and Texas City.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
430. Cavin Rawlins
9:18 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Amazing

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
429. Cavin Rawlins
9:15 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting SQUAWK:
I have a concept for raising money for Portlight's efforts on the blog. Get Admin to sponsor an auction. The highest bidder gets to pick 3 people to ban for 96 hours. Whaddayathinkofthat???


I would donate to any relieve effort but bid to ban people? Do I have no life? lol...but a tempting one at that.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
428. hydrus
9:15 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting atmoaggie:

I suppose the real question is if that asteroid was impacted by shear or experienced dry air entrainment before landfall.
Yeah. Wrong subject. (j/k)
Yes, the residents of the Philippines and Guam must be watching the news in awe with everything that is going on.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19608
427. winter123
9:15 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting timtrice:


I don't think so. shear is supposed to stay off the system looking at several models earlier today. Rather, the turn back to the east is caused a by a shift in the ridge above. Minimal SST's will prevent it from strengthening rapidly but depending on how deep the system gets vertically it could either continue west (shallow) or turn (deep). Consensus seems towards the latter right now but I like the first option of a shallow system staying well out to sea.

Either way, shouldn't be because of shear


How unusual... this could be interesting, i want to see this, shearless recurve into the baja...
Member Since: July 29, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 1762
426. jeffs713
9:14 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting SQUAWK:


We get their money for Portlight. Besides, I don't think they could stand the competition.

Good point.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
425. 789
9:11 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting SQUAWK:


We get their money for Portlight. Besides, I don't think they could stand the competition.
its all good
Member Since: July 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 262
424. SQUAWK
9:07 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting jeffs713:

What if someone like stormtop wins? Or one of the other trolls?


We get their money for Portlight. Besides, I don't think they could stand the competition.
Member Since: December 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2498
423. jeffs713
9:06 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting SQUAWK:
I have a concept for raising money for Portlight's efforts on the blog. Get Admin to sponsor an auction. The highest bidder gets to pick 3 people to ban for 96 hours. Whaddayathinkofthat???

What if someone like stormtop wins? Or one of the other trolls?
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
422. atmoaggie
9:02 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting jeffs713:

I remember it getting down to 8-10 degrees here in Houston back in 1989 (I think).

I think it was 89...the year Exxon in BR went kablooey. (which was attributed to some pipe coupling not able to handle the thermal (un)expansion of single digit weather)
Radio signal dies, 10 seconds later the windows/walls start rattling in tune with the dishes in the kitchen cabinets, 15 seconds of shake from 10 miles away.
Ya know how our military installations and some airports have a mandated buffer zone? I think the same should have been put in place 100 years ago around the refineries.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
421. SQUAWK
9:00 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
I have a concept for raising money for Portlight's efforts on the blog. Get Admin to sponsor an auction. The highest bidder gets to pick 3 people to ban for 96 hours. Whaddayathinkofthat???
Member Since: December 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2498
420. atmoaggie
8:58 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting hydrus:
You know I forgot all about that, I read somewhere it may have been a shallow sea near a small coastline where the asteroid impacted.

I suppose the real question is if that asteroid was impacted by shear or experienced dry air entrainment before landfall.
Yeah. Wrong subject. (j/k)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
419. mossyhead
8:54 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting stormsurge39:
Thanks
i remember opal, i lived in navarre but stayed at my boss's house in ft. walton beach when it hit. thank GOD it weakened right before landfall.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 473
418. hydrus
8:53 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting atmoaggie:

Yeah, but back then the Yucatan wasn't a peninsula...wasn't such a long drive to New Orleans from there back then.
You know I forgot all about that, I read somewhere it may have been a shallow sea near a small coastline where the asteroid impacted.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19608
417. jeffs713
8:50 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting atmoaggie:

Interesting that it was Delaware and teens for their lowest. We have had single digits in Baton Rouge as recently as ~20 years ago...heck I think we had teens for a high one of those colder days.

I remember it getting down to 8-10 degrees here in Houston back in 1989 (I think).
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
416. timtrice
8:48 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting winter123:


LOL um... West of this point, storms generally die of cold water. Very cold water. Also, if it's going to turn that abruptly, there will be a large amount of shear involved. I still say no threat to land.


I don't think so. shear is supposed to stay off the system looking at several models earlier today. Rather, the turn back to the east is caused a by a shift in the ridge above. Minimal SST's will prevent it from strengthening rapidly but depending on how deep the system gets vertically it could either continue west (shallow) or turn (deep). Consensus seems towards the latter right now but I like the first option of a shallow system staying well out to sea.

Either way, shouldn't be because of shear
415. atmoaggie
8:47 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting hydrus:
Yeah, he was hanging on the Yucatan with his finest bong, taking it ALL in.lol...When dirt was new..that is too damn smart....lololol

Yeah, but back then the Yucatan wasn't a peninsula...wasn't such a long drive to New Orleans from there back then.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
414. hydrus
8:45 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting Dakster:


Hydrus - Don't worry, Floodman was around when "the dirt was new and dinosaurs roamed the Earth", he even remembers the asteriod that took them out. He has a picture to prove it. Although he tells me it is really difficult to get the film developed nowadays.
Yeah, he was hanging on the Yucatan with his finest bong, taking it ALL in.lol.......When dirt was new.......that is too damn smart....lol
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19608
413. jeffs713
8:45 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting mikatnight:
In case anyone hasn't noticed - despite the various twists and turns – the main thrust of the blog today is to bring relief to the victims in Samoa through Portlight.org. I’ll be sending them another 10 bucks tonight. I know it’s not much, and I’m not too embarrassed to admit it (times are tough all over, right?), but if everyone chips in – it adds up. So if you haven’t given anything to that fine organization yet, go to their website and cough up 5 or 10 dollars or whatever you can.

Absolutely great post.

Keep in mind portlight's relief effort for Ike was started with a simple goal of a few thousand dollars in donations.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
412. atmoaggie
8:44 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting jeffs713:

Once you get below about 15-20F, its all just numbers as for how it feels. Its effects change the lower it gets, but the feel doesn't.

Interesting that it was Delaware and teens for their lowest. We have had single digits in Baton Rouge as recently as ~20 years ago...heck I think we had teens for a high one of those colder days.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
410. jeffs713
8:43 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting Dakster:
Floodman - Strontium only has a 29 year half life and cesium has a 30 year... So it may take alittle while, but certainly that couldn't have stopped them.

But Strontium-90 will bioaccumulate in milk. It will also work its way into steel, causing radioactive steel.

And to make things fun... Strontium-90 is mostly radioactive in beta radiation, which means it will most impact cells in the immediate radius. Think about what could happen if the fallout, containing Strontium-90, gets into our milk supply...

Might be a slight "technical issue"
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
409. JLPR
8:41 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
check it out :P
the remains of TD 8 closing in on the islands


and our disturbance closing in to 50W
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 5223
408. mikatnight
8:41 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
In case anyone hasn't noticed - despite the various twists and turns – the main thrust of the blog today is to bring relief to the victims in Samoa through Portlight.org. I’ll be sending them another 10 bucks tonight. I know it’s not much, and I’m not too embarrassed to admit it (times are tough all over, right?), but if everyone chips in – it adds up. So if you haven’t given anything to that fine organization yet, go to their website and cough up 5 or 10 dollars or whatever you can.
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
407. Bonedog
8:39 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
gotta love the government on this one

The reasoning was that the relatively inexpensive energy available from
nuclear explosions
could prove useful for a wide variety of peaceful purposes
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
406. 1900hurricane
8:35 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Parma...

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 11569
405. Bonedog
8:33 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Flood thats wht the DOE determined in 1977. That the debris would be too radioactive to dispense of without braod public outrage. Not that they wouldn't do it but they feared the public backlash if they had.

heres another tidbit from plowshare that some folks may not know

The radioactive blast debris from 839 U.S. underground nuclear test explosions remains buried in-place and has been judged impractical to remove by the DOE's Nevada Site Office.

The situation remained so for the next three decades, however, a resurgence in Colorado Western slope natural gas drilling has brought resource development closer and closer to the original underground detonations. As of summer 2009, 84 drilling permits have been issued within a 3-mile radius, with 11 permits within one mile of the site.
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
404. jeffs713
8:33 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting pinehurstnc:
off topic i know, but saw some one who said 16degrees was the coldest they have been in, i lived in denver co, it was 26 below 0,dec 23 week1990 i think, to tell u the truth . i was waiting 4 a bus,,it did not feel all that bad,greetings from sunny golf capital pine hurst nc. gregory,,hope a hazel does not happen in october .

Once you get below about 15-20F, its all just numbers as for how it feels. Its effects change the lower it gets, but the feel doesn't.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5793
403. Floodman
8:33 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting Dakster:
Floodman - Strontium only has a 29 year half life and cesium has a 30 year... So it may take alittle while, but certainly that couldn't have stopped them.


Well, the issue that Jeff brought up of many tons of rock vaporized and made aerosol makes fallout a little ugly, but what the hell, the midwest can handle it, huh?
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
402. Dakster
8:33 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Quoting hydrus:
Rest assured, it was posted in good spirit.


Hydrus - Don't worry, Floodman was around when "the dirt was new and dinosaurs roamed the Earth", he even remembers the asteriod that took them out. He has a picture to prove it. Although he tells me it is really difficult to get the film developed nowadays.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9768
401. Dakster
8:31 PM GMT on September 30, 2009
Floodman - Strontium only has a 29 year half life and cesium has a 30 year... So it may take alittle while, but certainly that couldn't have stopped them.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9768

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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.