Igor spares Bermuda; Fanapi hits China; exceptionally quiet in the Pacific

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:29 PM GMT on September 20, 2010

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The core of Category 1 Hurricane Igor passed approximately 40 miles west of Bermuda at 11 pm AST last night, bringing winds just below hurricane force to the island. Winds at the Bermuda Airport peaked at 68 mph, gusting to 93 mph, at 11:22 pm AST last night. Tropical storm force winds of 39 mph began at 10 am AST on Sunday, and were still present as of 9:38 am AST (44 mph, gusting to 53 mph.) Bermuda radar shows that the core of Igor is now well past Bermuda, with only a few spiral bands to the south that will bring occasional rain squalls to the island this morning. Pressures are rising rapidly, and the storm is almost over for Bermuda. No injuries or major damage has been reported from Bermuda thus far, though Igor's waves are being blamed for two deaths in the Caribbean, one on Puerto Rico and one on St. Croix.

Igor is headed northeastward, out to sea, but will pass close enough to southeast Newfoundland to bring tropical storm force winds there on Tuesday night. Rainfall amounts of 3 - 5 inches are possible for the capital of St. Johns.


Figure 1. The eye of Hurricane Igor as seen by the International Space Station at 9:56 am EDT September 14, 2010. At the time, Igor was a Category 4 hurricane with 135 mph winds. This image ranks as one of the top-five most spectacular hurricane images ever taken from space, in my mind. To see the full-size image, visit the NASA Earth Observatory web site.

94L
A tropical wave (Invest 94L) off the coast of Africa, a few hundred miles west of the Cape Verdes Islands, has developed a well-defined surface circulation and is threat to develop into a tropical depression. The wave is under a low 5 - 10 knots of wind shear, and is over warm 28°C waters. Dry air from the Sahara is interfering with development, and downdrafts created by mid-level dry air getting ingested into the storm are creating surface arc clouds on the west side of the storm, as seen in recent visible satellite loops. 94L only has a modest amount of heavy thunderstorm activity associated with it, and the amount of thunderstorm activity will have to increase in order for this system to be considered a tropical depression. Shear is expected to be low for the next four days, and most of the major forecast models develop 94L into a tropical depression 1 - 4 days from now. NHC is giving the wave a 80% of developing into a tropical depression by Wednesday.


Figure 2. Morning satellite image of Invest 94L.

Julia
Tropical Storm Julia is being ripped apart by wind shear from Igor, and will likely dissipate on Tuesday.

Typhoon Fanapi hits China
Typhoon Fanapi made landfall in mainland China about 150 miles east-northeast of Hong Kong this morning as a Category 1 storm with 75 mph winds. Fanapi was the strongest typhoon so far this season, peaking at Category 3 strength with 120 mph winds shortly before weakening to a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds when it hit northern Taiwan early Sunday morning, local time. Fanapi killed three people on the island, and brought rains of up to 1400 mm (4.6 feet) to mountainous regions in the interior. Taipei 101, the second tallest building in the world with more than 100 stories, reportedly swayed some 15 cm in Fanapi's winds.

A remarkably quiet Western Pacific typhoon season and Eastern Pacific hurricane season
It has been an exceptionally quiet Western Pacific typhoon season. Before Fanapi, the strongest typhoon this season was Typhoon Kompasu, a low-end Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds that hit South Korea in early September. According to statistics forwarded to me by NOAA meteorologist Paul Stanko on Guam, by this point in an ordinary typhoon season, we should have had 17 named storms, 11 typhoons, and 2 super supertyphoons (winds of 150+ mph.) This year, we've had just 11 named storms, 5 typhoons, and no supertyphoons. The record low for a typhoon season was 18 named storms (set in 1998), 9 typhoons (set in 1998), and no supertyphoons (set in 1974.) We have a chance of beating all of these records this year. The peak date for the Western Pacific typhoon season is August 28, so we are well past the peak.

It's a similar story out in the Eastern Pacific, where a near-record quiet hurricane season is occurring. So far there have been 6 named storms, 3 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. Ordinarily, we should have had 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricane by this point in the season. Since reliable satellite records of Eastern Pacific hurricane activity began in 1970, the quietest season on record was 1977, when just 8 named storms occurred. The fewest hurricanes occurred in 2007 (four), and there have been two years with no intense hurricanes. The peak of Eastern Pacific hurricane season is around August 25, and on average we can expect just 3 more named storms this year. Thus, we could set records for the fewest named storms and hurricanes this year.


Figure 3. Typhoon Fanapi at landfall in China at 5:15 UTC on September 20, 2010. Image credit: NASA.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The NOGAPS, ECMWF, and GFS models have been predicting development of a strong tropical disturbance or tropical depression in the Central Caribbean 6 - 9 days from now. However, the timing, location, and track of the potential development have been inconsistent from run to run. We should merely take note of the fact that these models predict that the Caribbean will be ripe for tropical storm development late this week and early next week, and not put much faith in the specifics of these highly unreliable long-range forecasts.

I'll have a new post on Tuesday morning.

Jeff Masters

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000
WTNT44 KNHC 210855
TCDAT4
TROPICAL STORM LISA DISCUSSION NUMBER 2
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL142010
500 AM EDT TUE SEP 21 2010

ENHANCED INFRARED AND SHORTWAVE IMAGERY...ALONG WITH AN AMSU
OVERPASS..INDICATE THAT THE TROPICAL CYCLONE HAS BECOME BETTER
ORGANIZED. BURSTS OF DEEP CONVECTION ARE FORMING NEAR THE
CIRCULATION CENTER...AND CLOUD TOPS ASSOCIATED WITH A BANDING
FEATURE OVER THE EAST SEMICIRCLE HAVE COOLED TO -70 CELSIUS.
DVORAK SATELLITE INTENSITY ESTIMATES ARE T2.5...35 KT...FROM BOTH
TAFB AND SAB. THESE ESTIMATES ALONG WITH AN ADT ESTIMATE OF 39 KT
SUPPORT AN UPGRADE OF THE DEPRESSION TO A 35 KT TROPICAL STORM.

THE SHEAR IS LOW...AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO
REMAIN CONDUCIVE FOR FURTHER STRENGTHENING DURING THE NEXT 36
HOURS. THROUGH THE REMAINING PERIOD...THE LARGE-SCALE MODELS SHOW
AN UPPER ANTICYCLONE LOCATED OVER THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC OCEAN
RETROGRADING SOUTHWESTWARD TOWARD THE GREATER ANTILLES...AND A MID-
TO UPPER-LEVEL TROUGH TO THE NORTH OF LISA FILLING AND MOVING
NORTHEASTWARD. THIS CHANGE IN THE SYNOPTIC PATTERN IS EXPECTED TO
INCREASE THE WESTERLY SHEAR ALONG THE FORECAST TRACK. THE
INTENSITY FORECAST IS BASED ON THE AFOREMENTIONED SCENARIO AND IS A
COMPROMISE OF THE SHIPS MODEL AND THE LGEM.

THE INITIAL MOTION ESTIMATE IS 360/4...WITHIN THE WEAK STEERING
CURRENT ASSOCIATED WITH A BREAK IN THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE OVER THE
EASTERN ATLANTIC. THE GLOBAL MODELS...AS WELL AS THE ECMWF AND GFS
ENSEMBLES...SUGGEST A RATHER SLOW NORTHWARD MOTION DURING THE NEXT
36 HOURS. BY DAY 2...A GRADUAL TURN TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST IS
INDICATED AS THE TROUGH LIFTS NORTHEASTWARD AND THE SUBTROPICAL
RIDGE BUILDS IN TO THE NORTH OF THE CYCLONE. THE NHC OFFICIAL
TRACK FORECAST REFLECTS A BLEND OF THE GLOBAL AND ENSEMBLE
MODELS...AND IS SHIFTED TO THE LEFT OF THE PREVIOUS ADVISORY.


FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 21/0900Z 17.7N 31.8W 35 KT
12HR VT 21/1800Z 18.0N 31.7W 45 KT
24HR VT 22/0600Z 18.4N 31.7W 50 KT
36HR VT 22/1800Z 18.7N 31.9W 55 KT
48HR VT 23/0600Z 19.0N 32.6W 55 KT
72HR VT 24/0600Z 19.8N 34.3W 55 KT
96HR VT 25/0600Z 20.5N 35.5W 50 KT
120HR VT 26/0600Z 21.5N 37.0W 45 KT

$$
FORECASTER ROBERTS/BEVEN
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Everyone is focusing on 10 days out.... I'm watching what PGI46L will do in the next 5 days. HPC Preliminary 5 day




What can I say? It gives us something to do. :P
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Everyone is focusing on 10 days out.... I'm watching what PGI46L will do in the next 5 days. HPC Preliminary 5 day


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Quoting NOLA2005:


Thanks ;) and are all the other models falling in line, too?


Yes. Yes they are. They all suggest that this system poses a long-range threat to the United States mainland. Well, with the exception of the 0z GFS, which for some stupid reason wants to recurve the system.

But all the global models suggest tropical cyclogenesis.

But remember, this is a long-range forecast. The most important thing is that genesis is likely to occur across the central or southwest Caribbean in the next 4-5 days.
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Quoting hydrus:
My bad...They also said something about The Great Dark Spot on Neptune disappearing too...I will check my facts before posting... I also wont believe everything I read or hear on the news either..:)


Actually you WERE partially correct. Just had an easy-to-make mistake cause you to make a mistake. The Great Red Spot, or whatever you want to call it, has been there for hundreds of years in some form or fashion, and will be there for a few hundred more, as Leddy noted.

But a smaller storm, which we astronomers affectionately gave the name "Red Jr." to, popped up several years ago. I'm actually a deep-space astronomer, not a planetary one, so I don't remember the exacts about that storm. But I have a friend in Virginia who is a planetary genious & could tell you (us!) exactly how many inches in diameter it was, the exact color palette it had, and how much rain-fall it produced each minute of it's existence. (Well, something like that anyway. :) )

THAT red spot was around 25% the size of the big one, still VERY easy to see in a moderate size scope, & it DID disappear a while back. So you had the right idea there, just wrong storm. That same identical mistake was made by a great many people, since the "Great Red Spot" is so well known, even amongst complete non-astronomers. So when the science journals mentioned "Red" has disappeared, the media caught hold of it & assumed they were talking about that big red spot which everyone knows about. Then people simply quoted the media.

But "Big Red" is doing just fine, although like any storm, he goes through changes. He's changed color several times to a color so pale that it really did appear that he was gone. And he sometimes shrinks by 25% or so, then grows back. But he's hanging in there still.

I don't really know the story about the Neptune spot, other than there is/was one that became so dark it was easily seen in large amateur scopes. As I said, I'm not a planetary astronomer. But since it was almost certainly an atmospheric storm also, like the big one on Jupiter, and since Neptune's atmosphere is much less turbulent than Jupiter, THAT spot probably did disappear within just a few months or so.
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PRELIMINARY EXTENDED FORECAST DISCUSSION
NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER CAMP SPRINGS MD
428 AM EDT TUE SEP 21 2010

VALID 12Z SAT SEP 25 2010 - 12Z TUE SEP 28 2010

A DEEPENING TROUGH IN THE GULF OF ALASKA WILL BUILD HEIGHTS OVER
THE ROCKIES BY THE WEEKEND. THIS WILL DEEPEN A TROUGH OVER THE
EASTERN U.S. THAT SHOULD SHARPEN ENOUGH TO FORM A CUT OFF LOW OVER
THE CENTRAL APPALACHIANS WELL SOUTH OF THE WESTERLIES. THE MODELS
HAVE RAPIDLY CONVERGED ON THIS SOLUTION OVER THE PAST 24 TO 48 HRS
THOUGH HOW QUICKLY THIS UPPER LOW EXITS THE MID-ATLANTIC EARLY
NEXT WEEK REMAINS TO BE SEEN. THE 00Z GEFS MEAN APPEARS SLOWEST
FOLLOWED BY THE 00Z GFS. THE 00Z ECMWF WAS A HAPPY MEDIUM AND
CLOSE TO ITS ENSEMBLE MEAN... AND WAS PRIMARILY USED FOR THE
FORECAST. THIS MORE OR LESS FOLLOWS ALONG THE LINE OF HPC
CONTINUITY /ALBEIT MUCH DEEPER NOW/. OPERATIONAL MODEL CONSISTENCY
HAS BEEN NON-EXISTENT BUT AT LEAST THE ENSEMBLES HAVE HELD
RELATIVELY STEADY WITH THIS EAST COAST TROUGH/CUTOFF SOLUTION.
HOWEVER... ENSEMBLE SPREAD REMAINS ABOVE AVERAGE SO DETAILS WILL
NEED FURTHER REFINING THROUGH THE WEEK.

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HPC PRELIM

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2225. markot
what you mean not scary for fl.
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Quoting Titoxd:


Just what we need, another strong hurricane taking aim at the Mississippi Delta... :(


I hope that is wrong. As I said, I fell for the models yesterday even knowing they are inaccurate at long range. They seem to have changed quite a bit. Hopefully they will again. Or at the very least get more accurate now that something is actually starting to form.
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2223. Titoxd
Quoting AtHomeInTX:
There's a scary thought. CMC moving it west from Florida last night.



Just what we need, another strong hurricane taking aim at the Mississippi Delta... :(
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Not looking too bad this morning. Link

No disrespect to Lisa but I hope she goes out to sea. Squished track though.

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2206: Please stop. Enough.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Nice avatar. Just noticed it. lol

Yoda ftw.


Thanks ;) and are all the other models falling in line, too?
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Quoting gordydunnot:
it's not scary if you live in Fl.


Lol. You're right. Scary is in the eye of the beholder. :)

Quoting flasooner:


I dunno . . . looking a bit like another Wilma to me . . .


That may be how it turns out. I do hope not though. :(

I guess I fell for the long-range models yesterday and I should have known better. Now that we've got a 10% maybe the models will get more accurate soon.
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Hopefully the GFS will be the accurate one. And no strong hurricane will hit the U.S. and hopefully not develop too strongly before leaving the Caribbean.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:
12z



00z



HUGE Change! Kinda worrying looks to miss the trough in that run with a ridge behind it??


I dunno . . . looking a bit like another Wilma to me . . .
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it's not scary if you live in Fl.
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There's a scary thought. CMC moving it west from Florida last night.

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12z



00z



HUGE Change! Kinda worrying looks to miss the trough in that run with a ridge behind it??
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We now have Lisa, folks:

Link

EDIT: With the formation of Lisa, we are now officially tied with 2004 in terms of named storms by this point of the season. 2004 wouldn't see Matthew form until October 8, about three weeks from now. If the Caribbean area develops (which it likely will) over the next few days, we'll be about two and a half weeks ahead of 2004.

I hope this year has taught everyone one very important lesson: patience. Things will almost always pick up, sans in El Nino years (even then, we usually see brief upticks in activity, ala August 2009).
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Quoting NOLA2005:
Just what I was hoping to hear...not!


Nice avatar. Just noticed it. lol

Yoda ftw.
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2211. KRL
Long range forecasts are always so nasty looking LOL.



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Just what I was hoping to hear...not!
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2209. markot
some people were saying on here earlier tonite the season was over.......
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2208. KRL
"In the past 150 years, South Florida has been hit by a total of 41 hurricanes; 20 struck before Sept. 21 and 21 after."

"Since 1860, more hurricanes have hit South Florida in October than any other month – 19, to be specific. The next closest month: September, with 15."
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Quoting CaptnDan142:


Note to self: The rule is, don't shoot the messenger. Must remember this...

From the looks of things in those models tho, I don't know... Where will it hit? Um, is "everywhere" an acceptable answer? That thing looks pretty humongous.


Yeah, we don't know where it will hit. But your answer is quite acceptable and appropriate despite that. ;)
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Quoting IKE:
Day 10....



Quoting xcool:


ECMWF JUST LIKE CMC


Good job with those predictive graphics Ike and you too, X-C.

That is what help makes this blog great, really good graphics predicting tropical weather from a few hours to 10 days in advance....and then watching it play out!

Good Job!

And, StormW is a Senior Chief, not a Master Chief, and he will tell you so.....
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Quoting SherwoodSpirit:
Ok nightshift, my eyes are blurry from staring at various loops. I'm off to bed. Ni ni, all. :)


'night. talking with family in NZ. via skype. good talking with you.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Hey, I'm just the messenger. :)


Note to self: The rule is, don't shoot the messenger. Must remember this...

From the looks of things in those models tho, I don't know... Where will it hit? Um, is "everywhere" an acceptable answer? That thing looks pretty humongous.
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Quoting BioChemist:


yeah but even a cat 3 or two can be nasty in florida. especially if it gets a large windfield.

so we should know a little more by the weekend huh? meaning, what and how strong it will get



Correct. No need to be overly concerned right now. They're just long-range model prognostications, which are subject to change.

Right now, what we know is that it's a very good chance something will coalesce into a tropical cyclone in the central or southwest Caribbean over the next 4-5 days, emanating from the tropical wave over the Windward Islands.
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Quoting SherwoodSpirit:
bcycsailor, we just had some freakishly springlike storms here this last weekend. I spent the day watching Igor via a webcam in Bermuda, back and forth with the local radar as the storms approached me, then went outside when I saw the outflow was about on me because I love getting blasted by that cold wind right before the storm hits. haha


Awesome power coming off Igor..wow. Now that we're into the cusp of dynamics changing towards fall up here, I can only think that the mix will be welcome if not potent,alas. Cross those fingers.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


If there's any consolation to all of this, it's that the ECMWF has been known to be a tad too aggressive on intensity at times.


yeah but even a cat 3 or two can be nasty in florida. especially if it gets a large windfield.

so we should know a little more by the weekend huh? meaning, what and how strong it will get

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Quoting CaptnDan142:


Well, I said the same thing you did. And you have a point about Kori's answer, but considering as how this isn't a fish storm, I have to disagree with you. I don't like his answer at all. (Not saying it isn't accurate, I just don't like it.)


Hey, I'm just the messenger. :)
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Quoting SherwoodSpirit:
But I like Kori's answer better, since he actually KNOWS what he's talking about. :)


Well, I said the same thing you did. And you have a point about Kori's answer, but considering as how this isn't a fish storm, I have to disagree with you. I don't like his answer at all. (Not saying it isn't accurate, I just don't like it.)
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Ok nightshift, my eyes are blurry from staring at various loops. I'm off to bed. Ni ni, all. :)
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Cat. 3 :S
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Quoting BioChemist:


holy poo... and it is 10 days out, next weekend? that is crazy!

The models did a decent job on Igors intensity... I forget which one it was that gave a huge HUrricane that extended almost to NC from Bermuda


If there's any consolation to all of this, it's that the ECMWF has been known to be a tad too aggressive on intensity at times.
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Quoting BioChemist:
what is 953 mbar? cat 3? low cat 4


About in the middle of Cat 3 according to this

Go down to Categories, and on the right hand side of the page there are pics of examples and they give the normal pressures for the category in a table of data for each.
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Quoting SherwoodSpirit:
But I like Kori's answer better, since he actually KNOWS what he's talking about. :)


LOL

Well to be fair, you were correct in saying that 953 mb would translate to a Category 3 storm. That's usually the case. It's just that, global models resolve sea level pressure a little differently.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


On a global model (CMC, GFS, NOGAPS, ECMWF, and UKMET), it's the equivalent of a Category 5, since such models rarely give an accurate representation of the actual pressure in a storm.


holy poo... and it is 10 days out, next weekend? that is crazy!

The models did a decent job on Igors intensity... I forget which one it was that gave a huge HUrricane that extended almost to NC from Bermuda
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But I like Kori's answer better, since he actually KNOWS what he's talking about. :)
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Seems the GFS is shifting more the east in its latest run? Its very wishy washy this week.

That solution just looks so un likely. One forms, moves east through the florida straight, then another one does then stalls in the bahamas?

Seems crazy.

But that euro model looks quite frightening
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BioChemist, middling Cat 3 according to my handy dandy lil chart.
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Quoting BioChemist:
what is 953 mbar? cat 3? low cat 4


On a global model (CMC, GFS, NOGAPS, ECMWF, and UKMET), it's the equivalent of a Category 5, since such models rarely give an accurate representation of the actual pressure in a storm.
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what is 953 mbar? cat 3? low cat 4
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vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

woaah, Im a little worried! We'll see what the future holds.
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"Katy bar the door.."
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2183. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #5
TROPICAL STORM MALAKAS (1012)
15:00 PM JST September 20 2010
====================================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon Near The Marianas

At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Malakas (1002 hPa) located at 18.0N 145.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest slowly

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

Gale Force Winds
==================
120 NM from the center in southwestern quadrant
100 NM from the center in northeastern quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 18.9N 142.7E - 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
48 HRS: 20.2N 140.0E - 65 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
72 HRS: 23.6N 140.3E - 80 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
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2182. xcool


ECMWF JUST LIKE CMC
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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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