Category 4 Super Typhoon Utor Bearing Down on the Philippines

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 11:52 AM GMT on August 11, 2013

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Earth's strongest and most dangerous tropical cyclone so far in 2013 is Category 4 Super Typhoon Utor, which is closing in on the northern Philippine Island of Luzon with 150 mph sustained winds. Landfall is expected at approximately 20 UTC (4 pm EDT) Sunday near Casigran. Satellite imagery shows a formidable storm with well-organized spiral bands, a prominent 15-mile diameter eye, and good (but not excellent) upper-level outflow. Ocean temperatures are very warm, about 30°C (86°F), which is approximately 0.5 - 1.0°C above average. These warm waters extend to tremendous depth, giving Utor a huge source of energy to tap into. Wind shear is low, 5 - 10 knots. Theoretically, the Maximum Potential Intensity (MPI) that Utor can achieve under these conditions is sustained winds of 185 mph. However, Utor will not have time to reach that strength before encountering Luzon. Utor is a very wet storm, and will likely bring a large swath of 8+ inches of rain across Luzon. These rains will cause dangerous flash flooding and mudslides. Utor will likely weaken to a Category 1 storm as it passes over Luzon, but is expected to re-intensify to a Category 2 storm before hitting China a few hundred miles south of Hong Kong about 20 UTC on Tuesday.

Utor is a Marshallese word for squall line, and has been used for three tropical cyclones in the Western Pacific--in 2001, 2006, and 2013. Typhoon Utor is called Typhoon Labuyo in the Philippines. Utor's 150 mph winds make it the strongest tropical cyclone globally so far in 2013. Earth's previous most powerful tropical cyclone of 2013 was Typhoon Soulik, which reached Category 4 strength with 145 mph winds on July 10. Soulik weakened to a Category 2 storm before hitting Taiwan on July 12.


Figure 1. MODIS satellite image of Typhoon Utor taken at 04:30 UTC on Sunday, August 11. Image credit: NASA.

The Philippines no stranger to powerful typhoons
The Philippines lie in the most tropical cyclone-prone waters on Earth, and rarely escape a year without experiencing a devastating typhoon. Usually, these storms impact the northern Philippine island of Luzon, but last year, Earth's deadliest weather disaster of 2012 occurred on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, where Super Typhoon Bopha struck as a Category 5 super typhoon with winds of 160 mph (260 km/h), on December 3. Bopha made two additional landfalls in the Philippines, on central Visayas and on Palawan, on December 4. The typhoon left 1901 people dead, mostly on the island of Mindanao, making Bopha the 2nd deadliest typhoon in Philippine history. Bopha affected over 5.4 million people and left over 700,000 people homeless. With damages estimated at $1.7 billion, Bopha was the costliest natural disaster in Philippines history.


Figure 2. December 7, 2012: rescuers and residents look for missing victims amongst toppled tree trunks and coconut shells after flash floods caused by Super Typhoon Bopha hit Compostela Valley on Mindanao Island in the Philippines on December 3 - 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Jay Morales, Malacanang Photo Bureau, HO)

Quiet in the Atlantic
There are no tropical cyclone threat areas in the Atlantic to discuss today. Some of the models are suggesting a strong tropical disturbance capable of becoming a tropical storm could form by Saturday in the Gulf of Mexico near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, in association with a stalled cold front expected to push off the Southeast U.S. coast late this week.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting 1184. Stormchaser121:

I really hope like hell it come to TX or western LA. We need it and I think we would both like a good chase!


If it goes into western Louisiana I won't complain; that puts me close enough to the right-front quadrant that I would still get tropical storm force winds and heavy rains.
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Quoting 1169. Relix:
I think this week we will start the meat of the season. Ingredients are slowly getting there.

Reading some of the previous comments.... You know what's impressive about Wunderkidcayman? He westcasts so much the storms that they somehow do arrive near him. Its impressive! :P!But he's a cool guy and does bring good info he just wants storms near him. Can't blame him!

And I don't want storms and I have not wanted and from very long years ago from when I first experienced really bad ones
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Quoting 1182. KoritheMan:


Do want.

I really hope like hell it come to TX or western LA. We need it and I think we would both like a good chase!
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Quoting 1169. Relix:
I think this week we will start the meat of the season. Ingredients are slowly getting there.

Reading some of the previous comments.... You know what's impressive about Wunderkidcayman? He westcasts so much the storms that they somehow do arrive near him. Its impressive! :P!But he's a cool guy and does bring good info he just wants storms near him. Can't blame him!

I ain't westcasting
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Quoting 1180. Stormchaser121:
FIM 9


Do want.
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Quoting 1170. Grothar:
You all are acting very strange tonight. I think I'll come back on another time when the stars are in the right position. Geez!!!


We all learn from you Gro.
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FIM 9
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Few thoughts this evening on models developing something in the GOM and rest of the tropics..

Most of the global models and the NAM develop something in the GulfMex in the 4-8 day period. The only model that doesn't is the ECMWF and that is because it does not break down the upper-level trof/cyclonic shear axis over the srn GulfMex like the other models do. But the EC would be the outlier model right now. However, even the EC develops an upper-level anticyclone (ULAC) over the nwrn Caribbean Sea by 72-96 hours, which would favor develop of the ern Caribbean Sea TW when it moves under the ULAC. The large-scale upper-level wind environment is changing and becoming more divergent, which will also to create large-scale weak upward vertical motion and resultant moistening of the previously extremely dry MDR. You are seeing that happening right now as widespread high cloudiness and numerous showers now dot most of the Caribbean Sea, which had pretty much been cloud-/shower-free in previous weeks due to large-scale sinking motion across the region.

climo is just an average of events over some time period, and the 'climo-window' can slide forward and backward in time from some mean period. Unfortunately, hurricane season will still happen this year.
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Quoting 1168. BaltimoreBrian:


Tomorrow night will be the ides of August. Perhaps I should post that comment here.


That comment would so get you a ban. Especially if that disturbance for the BOC decides to show up.
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Quoting 1152. redwagon:
\

The very sad thing for Texans is the upward MJO lift will send GOM developments recurving to the N Pole.

This is so unfair. Everybody else's drought map is white, not red and dark red like ours.

I now cast my droughted eyes to the EPAC for relief, a basin-crossing and 'recurve' into TX.



Don't despair. You may just get what you're asking for and more. Nature has a way of eventually leveling things out. I'd be watching the western periphery of high pressure in the GoM and CONUS troughing. Right now, if there were a storm in the GoM, TX would be a target landfall. Storms cannot push through 1016mb of high pressure as a general rule. They will push up against it, bend it, but not pass through. A storm now would find its way poleward via the western periphery of that isobar of high pressure. And, right now, that would mean TX, or maybe LA.

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I think utor is about to put on another show now that is back over water again. This thing has some explosive convection building going on at the moment...probably will be fully wrapped up again within 6-12 hours...
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Quoting 1170. Grothar:
You all are acting very strange tonight. I think I'll come back on another time when the stars are in the right position. Geez!!!


I got the stars lined up for you, Grothar. Just don't expect them to stay that way for too long. :)
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orca!...lol...hey there, long time no see.
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Quoting 1170. Grothar:
You all are acting very strange tonight. I think I'll come back on another time when the stars are in the right position. Geez!!!


Just Brian. No one else. Everyone else is just as crazy as normal. :-P
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Quoting 1156. seer2012:

looks like the selenite crystal cave in Mexico??


I believe so.
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Quoting 1170. Grothar:
You all are acting very strange tonight. I think I'll come back on another time when the stars are in the right position. Geez!!!


I just got here...but if "you are" saying they are acting stranger then normal.. I will run away now.
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1170. Grothar
You all are acting very strange tonight. I think I'll come back on another time when the stars are in the right position. Geez!!!
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1169. Relix
I think this week we will start the meat of the season. Ingredients are slowly getting there.

Reading some of the previous comments.... You know what's impressive about Wunderkidcayman? He westcasts so much the storms that they somehow do arrive near him. Its impressive! :P!But he's a cool guy and does bring good info he just wants storms near him. Can't blame him!
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Quoting 1159. Astrometeor:


You ever read Brian's literature on those three? Hehe.


Tomorrow night will be the ides of August. Perhaps I should post that comment here. In fact I will.
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Quoting 1136. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
90 degrees or warmer that can produce good strong storm 98 degrees could support a pre historic super storm 300 mph winds but I likely not care to see that


C'mon cold front!

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NEW TROPICAL LOW OF 1009 MB LOW
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New model coming in 40 minute
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Quoting 1158. MississippiWx:


You have an odd man crush on those 3 bloggers. Lol.


Aight MissWx!
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A blob to watch for..
Click to enlarge
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Quoting 1126. sar2401:

No, and I didn't write any such thing. Shear is always constant, the only question how much shear is in the atmosphere, since the wind shear speeds vary. Shear will not "let up" in the Caribbean, or anywhere else. It may lessen or may increase. I have no idea what the wind shear in the Caribbean will be a week from now, and neither does anyone else. The only thing we know is if wind shear is, in general, decreasing or increasing. Wind shear is one of the most unpredictable things in the atmosphere.


Wait. I think I get it now. Wind shear is always existent, but it would increase or weaken with time?
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1161. TXCWC
Quoting 1119. fredric1979:


What is the FIM model? Is it the first year, or is it being used as a trusted model or strictly as " eye candy"? That landfall of the low (what ever it is supposed to be is WAY to close to home.


No, the FIM models - is more than 1 - have been around for more than a year...they were actually in use last hurricane season and have been shown to be just as - if not more so with many storms last yr - accurate in forecast track as the GFS and has been at times as accurate as "king" Euro. The FIM 9 as well as FIM 8 and 7 for that matter are NOT just eye candy...America is attempting to scale mount Euro in terms of its past consistency in beating the American GFS model in storm track error rate and the FIM is part of that attempt to learn and eventually scale that mountain. Just because they are designated "experimental" does not mean "of no value." But do not take my word for it...here is NOAA themselves summarizing 2012 storm track error rates between FIM 8, FIM 9, GFS, and Euro Link (note updated original link - this should be the correct pwr point from NOAA depicting in detail last yrs 2012 hurricane track error rates between the models)
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Quoting 1159. Astrometeor:


You ever read Brian's literature on those three? Hehe.


That's what I'm referring to...Ha.
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Quoting 1158. MississippiWx:


You have an odd man crush on those 3 bloggers. Lol.


You ever read Brian's literature on those three? Hehe.
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Quoting 1145. BaltimoreBrian:


Intrepid wunderbloggers Jedkins, Drakoen and Levi on the case!



You have an odd man crush on those 3 bloggers. Lol.
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Quoting 1153. Some1Has2BtheRookie:


You will remember this one, Geoffrey. :)

I'll ask Grandpa


LOL...Good ole Al Lewis.
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Quoting 1145. BaltimoreBrian:


Intrepid wunderbloggers Jedkins, Drakoen and Levi on the case!


looks like the selenite crystal cave in Mexico??
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we have a low on the map at 1009MB


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I would watch the SW Caribbean for development as of now, also The EATL. Gotta a feeling the next 4 to 6 weeks will be quite interesting! Everyone have a great night.
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Quoting 1131. GeoffreyWPB:


How hot is actual "rocket fuel"?


You will remember this one, Geoffrey. :)

I'll ask Grandpa
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Quoting 1147. moonlightcowboy:
Anything that comes through the Yucatan Channel is nearly certain to pass through the Loop Current, the latest eddy or a few of the slightly older ones. They have the GoM coastline surrounded, nearly 100 percent.
\

The very sad thing for Texans is the upward MJO lift will send GOM developments recurving to the N Pole.

This is so unfair. Everybody else's drought map is white, not red and dark red like ours.

I now cast my droughted eyes to the EPAC for relief, a basin-crossing and 'recurve' into TX.
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Quoting 1145. BaltimoreBrian:


Intrepid wunderbloggers Jedkins, Drakoen and Levi on the case!



Looks like Superman's wrecked fortress.
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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
500 PM PDT SUN AUG 11 2013

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

1. SATELLITE-DERIVED WIND DATA INDICATE THAT THE AREA OF LOW PRESSURE
LOCATED ABOUT 1100 MILES SOUTHWEST OF THE SOUTHERN TIP OF THE BAJA
CALIFORNIA PENINSULA HAS AN ELONGATED CIRCULATION...AND THE
ASSOCIATED SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY IS WELL REMOVED FROM
THE SURFACE CENTER. ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO BE
MARGINALLY CONDUCIVE FOR DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS
WHILE THE LOW MOVES WESTWARD AT AROUND 15 MPH. THIS SYSTEM HAS A
LOW CHANCE...20 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS...AND A MEDIUM CHANCE...30 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A
TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 5 DAYS.

2. A TROUGH OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED ABOUT 1350 MILES EAST-SOUTHEAST OF
THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII CONTINUES TO PRODUCE DISORGANIZED SHOWERS
AND THUNDERSTORMS. ANY DEVELOPMENT OF THIS DISTURBANCE IS EXPECTED
TO BE SLOW TO OCCUR AS IT MOVES WESTWARD AT ABOUT 15 MPH OVER THE
NEXT FEW DAYS. THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF
BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS...AS WELL AS A
LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 5 DAYS.

3. SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS LOCATED A FEW HUNDRED MILES OFF THE
SOUTHWESTERN COAST OF MEXICO ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A SHARP SURFACE
TROUGH OF LOW PRESSUE. UPPER-LEVEL WINDS DO NOT APPEAR CONDUCIVE
FOR DEVELOPMENT AS THIS DISTURBANCE MOVES WESTWARD AWAY FROM THE
COAST AT ABOUT 10 MPH DURING THE NEXT FEW DAYS. THIS SYSTEM HAS A
LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS...AND A LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A
TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 5 DAYS.
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Quoting 1148. cat6band:


Cowboy....what exactly does this graph show us?.....pardon my ignorance, still learning! :)



The Loop Current is a massive current of very warm, fast-flowing water that moves into and through the Yucatan Channel from the Caribbean. The current bends out into the GoM and exits through the Florida Straights into the Gulf Stream and up the US coastline.

Eventually, the current pinches off a large Loopy Eddy of anticyclonic-spinning water. These eddys are some of the deepest, warmest waters of the GoM. And, so they are prime areas of fuel for rapid intensification for any storm that passes through these waters. That's the basic info. It's an interesting topic for people along the GoM. We know those things are out there, and can mean the difference of a category or more of strengthening.
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Quoting 1143. moonlightcowboy:


Cowboy....what exactly does this graph show us?.....pardon my ignorance, still learning! :)
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Anything that comes through the Yucatan Channel is nearly certain to pass through the Loop Current, the latest eddy or a few of the slightly older ones. They have the GoM coastline surrounded, nearly 100 percent.
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Quoting 942. sar2401:

Although I think it depends exactly where in the Southeast you live. I know some parts of the Panhandle and north Georgia are still pretty well saturated. Here is SE AL, it's actually starting to get too dry. Of course, the high today was 106, and it's still 104 now, so it doesn't take much to suck a lot of moisture out of the ground in this kind of heat. I feel kind of bad wishing for a couple of inches of rain when I know some of my geographical neighbors would like to see it not rain for at a least another week.


Same here in Orlando. Yes the lakes, etc. are full (as they should be toward the end of the rainy season), but we still need rain to maintain moisture levels on the surface, and we are not getting quite enough lately. No rain whatsoever the past few days. A tropical storm may be welcomed by September if this continues for the remainder of August.
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Quoting 1142. Astrometeor:


Smaller or bigger than the grains of salt used for the CMC?


Intrepid wunderbloggers Jedkins, Drakoen and Levi on the case!

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So we should change the term "Rocket Fuel" to ''Warm Take Your Shower"?
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Quoting 1124. AussieStorm:


The FIM Model is only experimental. Should be taken with a huge grain of salt.


Smaller or bigger than the grains of salt used for the CMC?
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Baguio, Philippines up in the mountains has had a respectable pressure drop and wind shift. Not that much rain so far considering they average 1.5" a day in August.
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Quoting 1131. GeoffreyWPB:


How hot is actual "rocket fuel"?
The LH2 and the LOX stored inside the external tank of the Space Shuttle was chilled at -418^F, and during ignition and powered flight the combustion chamber inside the RS-25 engines were heated to 6,000^F.
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1139. sar2401
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


How hot is actual "rocket fuel"?

Ironically, it's pretty cold. Liquid oxygen is one of the main components.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


How hot is actual "rocket fuel"?


Liquid oxygen and hydrogen are pretty chilly ;)
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Quoting 1117. SLU:


It's so frustrating when the tropics shifts gears as soon as school reopens. I'm glad I'm done with university as of May this year so I've got all the time in the world when things finally get going. XD

Actually, how that works is that you never have any free time at all anymore once you actually get a job.... lol...

Evening all... just got in from a day's work [i.e. driving my mother around town to buy things... lol]
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1136. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting 1131. GeoffreyWPB:


How hot is actual "rocket fuel"?
90 degrees or warmer that can produce good strong storm 98 degrees could support a pre historic super storm 300 mph winds but I likely not care to see that
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54502

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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.