Category 3 Typhoon Sanba hitting Okinawa

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:00 PM GMT on September 15, 2012

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The winds are rising and heavy rain is lashing Okinawa, Japan where Category 3 Typhoon Sanba is expected to make landfall early Sunday morning local time (early this afternoon U.S. EDT.) Radar loops show that the large 35-mile diameter eye of Sanba is on a track that will bring it across the southern part of Okinawa, and heavy rains and wind gusts of 59 mph and 66 mph have been reported at Naha Airport and Kadena Air Force Base, respectively, over the past few hours. Moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots has weakened Sanba below its Category 5 peak on Friday morning, and satellite loops show that Sanba is weakening, with the cloud tops warming and the eyewall getting eroded on the west side, but Sanba should be able to maintain Category 3 strength as it crosses Okinawa today. Sanba will continue to weaken as it encounters cooler waters and higher wind shear between Okinawa and South Korea Saturday night and Sunday, and is likely to be at Category 1 strength at landfall in South Korea near 18 UTC on Sunday.


Figure 1. Radar image of Typhoon Sanba approaching Okinawa. Image credit: Japan Meteorological Agency.

Sanba: the strongest tropical cyclone of 2012
The most powerful tropical cyclone of 2012 is Typhoon Sanba. Sanba formed as a tropical depression over the western Pacific Ocean on September 10. The storm rapidly strengthened from a Category 1 to a Category 5 storm over very warm waters of 30°C (86°F) in just 24 hours beginning on September 13, and became Category 5 Super Typhoon with 175 mph winds for an 18-hour period ending at 12 UTC Friday, September 14. Sanba is Earth's only Category 5 tropical cyclone so far in 2012; the planet had two such storms in 2011, both in the Western Pacific. The previous strongest tropical cyclone of 2012 was Super Typhoon Guchol, a Category 4 storm with top winds of 150 mph east of the Philippines in June. Sanba is the strongest typhoon in the Western Pacific since October 2010, when Super Typhoon Megi's sustained winds hit 180 mph.



FIgure 2. Super Typhoon Sanba at peak strength, as seen at 04:50 UTC September 13, 2012, by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite. At the time, Sanba was a Super Typhoon with sustained winds of 175 mph and gusts to 205 mph. The spectacular eye of Super Typhoon Sanba featured two counter-rotating eddies at the surface. Image credit: NASA.

Links for Sanba
Radar loop from Okinawa
Live traffic with audio and video of Typhoon Sanba approaching.is available from ustream.tv.
Current conditions from Naha Airport, Okinawa, Japan
Current conditions from Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Japan

Atlantic tropical update
Hurricane Nadine is recurving to the northeast on a track that may bring the storm close to the Azores Islands in 4 - 5 days. Steering currents for Nadine are expected to collapse in about 5 days, and the storm will likely wander for many days in the Central Atlantic.

A tropical wave about 600 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands is moving west at 15 mph, and will spread heavy rain showers and gusty winds over the islands on Sunday. The wave is under a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear, and has only a small amount of heavy thunderstorm activity, due to a large area of dry air surrounding the system. The amount of heavy thunderstorm activity has increased some this afternoon, though. The 12Z run of the NOGAPS model predicts the wave could approach tropical depression strength by Wednesday, when it will be near the Dominican Republic. However, none of the other reliable models develop the system, and the wave doesn't have much spin at present, as seen on an 11:14 am EDT ASCAT pass.. In their 2 pm EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the wave a 20% of developing into a tropical depression by Monday afternoon. A hurricane hunter aircraft is on call for Monday afternoon to investigate the storm, just in case.

Jeff Masters

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I'll name an example of a year that had a major hurricane in October in the Caribbean with very low vertical instability - Major Hurricane Rina last year.
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Quoting SherwoodSpirit:


Give Nadine a chance. She could still become memorable if she does what the models are suggesting and heads west again. Effectively making The Mark of Zorro across the atlantic. ;)
Have you looked at the shear maps...
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why are people still driving around with a cat 3 (or maybe 4) 2 hours from landfall? Just saw a line of 6 cars go past the live cam.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I don't believe we will. The odds of a CV major seem very low since that season is pretty much over, and the odds of getting a major in the Caribbean with such low instability seem pretty low. 2012 will be memorable for its number of storms during an El Nino year, but not for their intensity.


Don't be sure of the latter at all. Cold fronts are beginning to drape down now, that will close off the chances of another CV hurricane after Nadine BUT you will notice that storms like Ernesto begin to ramp up in the Western Caribbean as all the air is piled up there. I suspect that we could very well see a system off a tail end of a front develop in the SW Caribbean in October.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Just adds to the list of weak un- memorable female storms this year.Nadine you had a chance to be a major...

I'm losing confidence we'll see another major this year.


the heat is quickly disipearing with the cv storms of late.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Just adds to the list of weak un- memorable female storms this year.Nadine you had a chance to be a major...

I'm losing confidence we'll see another major this year.


Give Nadine a chance. She could still become memorable if she does what the models are suggesting and heads west again. Effectively making The Mark of Zorro across the atlantic. ;)
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12z Euro takes the CATL wave through the Gulf before it is absorbed along a trough and pulled up across the Gulf coast.

216hrs

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Quoting washingtonian115:
Just adds to the list of weak un- memorable female storms this year.Nadine you had a chance to be a major...

I'm losing confidence we'll see another major this year.

I don't believe we will. The odds of a CV major seem very low since that season is pretty much over, and the odds of getting a major in the Caribbean with such low instability seem pretty low. 2012 will be memorable for its number of storms during an El Nino year, but not for their intensity.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7777
lobe of vorticity in gulf coinsiding with no tstorms



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Quoting HurrMichaelOrl:


Okinawa is about to get a DIRECT hit by a strong typhoon. I know this island receives direct hits from tropical cyclones (even Super Typhoons) frequently, but I think this will catch the people off-guard, as it will pass right over the Island (was forecast to go west of Okinawa).

Does anybody know how often on average Okinawa gets a direct hit from a category 3 or higher typhoon?


If you watch the live stream from Okinawa there are cars driving around as though nothing is going on.
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Quoting weatherh98:


to put this simply...

This is not good



Okinawa is about to get a DIRECT hit by a strong typhoon. I know this island receives direct hits from tropical cyclones (even Super Typhoons) frequently, but I think this will catch the people off-guard, as it will pass right over the Island (was forecast to go west of Okinawa).

Does anybody know how often on average Okinawa gets a direct hit from a category 3 or higher typhoon?
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
The pressure's down around 974mb on Okinawa right now.

Nadine's getting blown away:

Just adds to the list of weak un- memorable female storms this year.Nadine you had a chance to be a major...

I'm losing confidence we'll see another major this year.
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The pressure's down around 974mb on Okinawa right now.

Nadine's getting blown away:

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7777
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Eyewall nearing the island:

What a scary image............
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Okinawa:

Speed / Dir 51 mph from NE Wind Gust 69 mph

Gusts are getting closer to H strength.
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According to the latest radar of Typhoon Sanba, the eye-wall will be moving over Okinawa shortly.
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Quoting stormchaser19:
Nogaps 12z 144 Hours
The models think dry air is going to be significant enough to stop any rapid development.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Yes it does, same principle. Vertical instability is needed for thunderstorm development, without thunderstorms you'd be hard pressed to see development obviously.


Its not like the instability is null... there is vertical instibility just not as much as normal
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Look how intense that NW eyewall is. That's coming right over the island, winds are probably around 100kts in that band:

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7777
Nogaps 12z 144 Hours
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I'd say the lack of vertical instability puts a cap on how strong a tropical cyclone can get in the Caribbean, but it does not prevent development. Remember vertical instability in the Caribbean was insanely low last year as well and we still managed to get a major hurricane.


Yes it does, same principle. Vertical instability is needed for thunderstorm development, without thunderstorms you'd be hard pressed to see development obviously.
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AL, 14, 2012091518, , BEST, 0, 309N, 491W, 70, 983
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7777


to put this simply...

This is not good

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Quoting TomTaylor:
The more unstable the environment, the more favorable it is for both development and intensification...

Don't forget Ernesto
That reminds me of Rita when I saw the infrared of her when she was a four.The gulf was very dry.
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SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN JUAN PR
238 PM AST SAT SEP 15 2012

PRC019-039-047-054-073-091-101-105-107-141-143-14 5-151930-
BARRANQUITAS PR-CIALES PR-COROZAL PR-FLORIDA PR-JAYUYA PR-MANATI PR-
MOROVIS PR-NARANJITO PR-OROCOVIS PR-UTUADO PR-VEGA ALTA PR-
VEGA BAJA PR-
238 PM AST SAT SEP 15 2012

...SIGNIFICANT WEATHER ADVISORY FOR STRONG THUNDERSTORMS OVER CIALES
AND JAYUYA EASTWARD TO NARANJITO...

AT 226 PM AST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED
STRONG THUNDERSTORMS OVER JAYUYA...CIALES...MOROVIS...COROZAL...AND
NARANJITO...MOVING SLOWLY TO THE NORTH. THESE STORMS WERE PRODUCING
VERY HEAVY RAINFALL AND FREQUENT LIGHTNING AND MAY ALSO CONTAIN WIND
GUSTS TO 45 MPH AND SMALL HAIL.

$$
JJA
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Happy independence day for my country and I see we may get a new invest.cool
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I'd say the lack of vertical instability puts a cap on how strong a tropical cyclone can get in the Caribbean, but it does not prevent development. Remember vertical instability in the Caribbean was insanely low last year as well and we still managed to get a major hurricane.
The more unstable the environment, the more favorable it is for both development and intensification...

Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Whoever said that for the previous storms that have passed through the caribbean...with the exception of Isaac...were misinformed. He's not lying when he says they're not high this time though, lol.
Don't forget Ernesto
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Un-declared disturbance looking better at 850.





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Nogaps 00z shows somewhat development
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Here comes Lane.

EP, 12, 2012091518, , BEST, 0, 130N, 1235W, 35, 1003, TS

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Euro 168 hrs.



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It appears that a llc is forming with the catl wave, near 12.5n 53.4w. one can see low level clouds from the se and ne streaming to this apparent centre. it would not be too long before this area is designated 93L
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I just came from marching I have a lot of fun I walk 15 blocks it was awesome even though the sun almost burn me.
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Quoting unknowncomic:
LinkOkinawa has several webcams available to see Samba conditions. Still dark there might be good viewing in several hours. Here's a link to one at the beach. Waves look large.
About 3:30 in the morning over there a landfalling storm overnight is dangerous as if you are still on the island and the power goes out you can't see anything.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
What I want to know is what is causing this lack of vertical instability? Is it the drought conditions over the Central Plains?


High pressure has been dominating the Caribbean for the past few weeks.
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Shear only going to get worse for her...
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getting more humid here, rain for sure tonight
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Testing. I this noted that you can sing in with your Facebook acc
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I'd say the lack of vertical instability puts a cap on how strong a tropical cyclone can get in the Caribbean, but it does not prevent development. Remember vertical instability in the Caribbean was insanely low last year as well and we still managed to get a major hurricane.
What I want to know is what is causing this lack of vertical instability? Is it the drought conditions over the Central Plains?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I'd say the lack of vertical instability puts a cap on how strong a tropical cyclone can get in the Caribbean, but it does not prevent development. Remember vertical instability in the Caribbean was insanely low last year as well and we still managed to get a major hurricane.
Yeah in N.W section only.
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Eyewall nearing the island:

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7777
LinkOkinawa has several webcams available to see Samba conditions. Still dark there might be good viewing in several hours. Here's a link to one at the beach. Waves look large.
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51. SLU
Quoting CybrTeddy:
It looks "decent", I'll give you that, but there doesn't appear to be too much on the surface other than a windshift.


Some 850mb vorticity, which is in a pretty circular shape.


Shear is by no means destructive, although the ULL south of Leslie isn't exactly helping it.


Decent upper divergence, but lacking in lower convergence, though going back a few frames the system did have a decent amount of lower convergence overnight which led to the increase in thunderstorms.


I see absolutely no model support that this might become a depression, maybe in the western Caribbean. If the NHC tags it as an invest, maybe the SHIPS will think otherwise but I'm not expecting much other than some rain for the islands.



There's a broad surface low. Look to the south of the system and you will see the low level clouds moving from west to east.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Biggest reason why this probably won't develop, vertical instability in the Caribbean is very unimpressive. This is why Isaac didn't intensify and that was a fully formed TS when it reached the Caribbean.

I'll get a 30% based on present organization, but not much more.

I'd say the lack of vertical instability puts a cap on how strong a tropical cyclone can get in the Caribbean, but it does not prevent development. Remember vertical instability in the Caribbean was insanely low last year as well and we still managed to get a major hurricane.
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Thank you Dr. Masters
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I would love to see that wave to do the exact opposite of what the models show.
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Weak T.D if we get really lucky with this.
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Biggest reason why this probably won't develop, vertical instability in the Caribbean is very unimpressive. This is why Isaac didn't intensify and that was a fully formed TS when it reached the Caribbean.

I'll get a 30% based on present organization, but not much more.
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12z Euro running and tracks the tropical wave east of the islands into the Caribbean.

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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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