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 927. Gearsts:
But still shows the epac been active.


Yes.EPAC active means Atlantic being the opposite.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14900
given this is 7 days out, I wonder how much rain west coast of florida will get........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42141
Quoting 929. 954FtLCane:
so hurricane charley will hit next weekend on the west coast of florida. My oh my are we wishcasting the analog maps along a storms path.... remember no two storms are alike folks. still looks like an interesting week to come on the blog...or else...bust!
I hope I spelled everyting correctly.
Not wishcasting was just showing how early season troughs are not as uncommon as one would think. And used Charley as an example for a storm that made a hard right hand turn because of a deep trough.
Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8774
932. VR46L
Quoting 929. 954FtLCane:
so hurricane charley will hit next weekend on the west coast of florida. My oh my are we wishcasting the analog maps along a storms path.... remember no two storms are alike folks. still looks like an interesting week to come on the blog...or else...bust!
I hope I spelled everyting correctly.


LOL !!

But that's the way it would look ...
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
924.. great news!
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I'm deeply sorry for using foul language. I'll refrain from it next time. Promise!
Member Since: July 27, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 501
so hurricane charley will hit next weekend on the west coast of florida. My oh my are we wishcasting the analog maps along a storms path.... remember no two storms are alike folks. still looks like an interesting week to come on the blog...or else...bust!
I hope I spelled everyting correctly.
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Hopefully things stay a tropical storm at worst. I would fall out of my chair if a cat 4/5 was forecasted to be in the GOM next weekend.
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Quoting 923. Tropicsweatherpr:


Nothing from CV for Caribbean in this run.
But still shows the epac been active.
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Quoting Grothar:
Still staying strong.



WE knew you would.
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Quoting 920. Gearsts:


Wow pressure are extremely low as we head into the peak.

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Still staying strong.


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Quoting 920. Gearsts:


Nothing from CV for Caribbean in this run.
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Quoting 794. sar2401:

That's too bad, but it's kind of dangerous to be traveling in that area at night anyway. I'm sure the skies must be almost perfectly dark though.

Since I livew in southeast Alabma, I don't have a clue about St. Lucia, but I'm sure it's lovely from my visits there. Not so nice here. 102 degrees with a dewpoint of 76 and a heat index of 118...no, not a typo, actually 118...whoops, just went to 120! Hardly a cloud in the sky and totally miserable.
Sorry Sar I confuse you with Slu,I apologies.
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Sorry for using foul language. I'll refrain from it next time. Promise! :(
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18Z GFS 850 MB WINDS

6Z SUN AUG 18
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42141
200 hours out the GFS (fantasy range) hinting at a CV seedling



But the eastern flank of the high is weak and may allow for recurvature. As ridging builds offthe East coast.
Member Since: May 25, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2043
916. beell
Quoting 893. nrtiwlnvragn:


Think so, but looks like Hart's phase space has lost it..... comes from the East Pacific?




Yea, I don't get that one.
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NOAA plane flies through the eye of hurricane Gilbert in 1988

Dr. Jeff Masters is the NOAA Flight meteorologist in this Video aboard the P3-Orion.

.

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This show west so alot will happen until we get our system and can track it. Ah i forgot but is really important where if it forms where will it form.
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Quoting 904. MAweatherboy1:
For what it's worth, the 18z NAVGEM was significantly different than its 12z run. 12z showed what looked like a moderate TS heading for the northern Gulf Coast, but 18z doesn't really develop anything, it keeps the low very weak and pushes it into the BOC:



Its very possible a weaker system will get caught in the trades and move into the BOC and eventually into Mexico. This is what the models were hinting at yesterday.
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Quoting 837. ncstorm:


students cant have them here in NH County in classes..however you can have them on school ground..they take them here if you use them in class and students wont get them back until the end of the year..
We are not allow to bring them into school,but most of us are experts of hiding it.
Member Since: October 15, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 4467
Quoting 903. WXGulfBreeze:


That's the biggest worry right now. We're pretty much saturated on the panhandle. A slow tropical storm anywhere along the gulf coast would be a major flooding event.
yes it could be a flooding problem alright..stay safe up there.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42141
Quoting 901. beell:
Beginnings of a transition here.


08/11 18Z GFS 200mb heights, winds @ 135 hrs.


Impressive trough for August.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
18z GFS, 189 hours- developing storm off Africa. Will probably head out to sea since it developed so early:



Edit- the storm actually falls apart in the next couple frames and moves west.
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Quoting LargoFl:
THE GFS IS THE MODEL OF CHOICE THROUGH AT LEAST
THURSDAY BUT GETS INTERESTING FOR THE WEEKEND. IT IS THE ONLY
CONVENTIONAL MODEL CURRENTLY INDICATING A TROPICAL CYCLONE
POTENTIALLY DEVELOPING OVER THE YUCATAN THE MOVES INTO THE CENTRAL
GULF STATES NEXT SATURDAY. WHILE NOT TOTALLY BUYING OFF WHOLE-
HOG...TELECONNECTIONS WOULD SUGGEST A WEAKNESS IN THE FLOW WILL
CREATE A VULNERABILITY FOR THE AREA SHOULD A SURFACE LOW DEVELOP
OVER THE CENTRAL GULF OF MEXICO.
THE TAFB UNIT...WHO PREPARES THE
WIND GRIDS FOR THE OUTER GULF WATERS...IS IN CONSENSUS OF AT LEAST
INDICATING A CYCLONIC CIRCULATION IN THE WIND FIELD TO SKIRT THE
OUTER COASTAL WATERS NEXT SATURDAY. WILL INDICATE LIKEWISE FOR NOW
BUT SUBSEQUENT MODEL RUNS WILL HAVE TO BE MONITORED CLOSELY.
INCIDENTLY...THAT WOULD BE THE ANNIVERSARY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF
1969...JUST SAYING.

That says it all. Watch the Yucatan. If we see a low develop there and begin to move east...and we see a surface low develop from the tail end of this forecasted amplified trough...then we could end up with a strong TS/cat 1 hurricane. Both of these things need to happen in the right order, at the right time, and with the right amount of intensity, for this tropical system to develop. That's a lot of ifs for 7-9 days out. It will be interesting to see what really happens but, if it happens like the GFS predicts, at least it will start to restore some of my faith in model runs again.
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Quoting 876. wunderweatherman123:
so a good environment yet a 1006mb storm? sounds a little discredible to me given the pattern


It certainly have potential to be something stronger there is plenty of untapped energy out there we will see how much the trough digs in. Looks to be a interesting week now that we are getting closer to TC genesis.

Member Since: May 25, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2043
Quoting GTstormChaserCaleb:
That is not true you are not the only one calling for a below average season. TampaSpin on his blog gave valid reasons as to why he thinks the numbers won't live up to expectations and Pottery came on yesterday and gave his reasons as to why. Nothing is ever guaranteed when it comes to the weather. And honestly I like reading what you post.


Thanks for that.

Honestly, I think this might very well be a year filled with anomalies.
And I would not be at all surprised if the number of storms/hurricanes are lower than forecast.

Obviously, I have no model support for this view, because all the models (going out several weeks into the future...) assume that certain things will fall into place to create the right situations for an above average season.

They very well might do so.
But quite honestly, I will be surprised if they do.
And this is based entirely on my own observations of the weather in the Atl, The GOM and the Caribbean for the past several months.

Yes, we have had 4 named systems already.
It does not look likely that we will get another soon.
After that ????
We wait and see.

We are trying to predict the weather.
It has always been unpredictable.
We could theoretically get 10 storms next week.......
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Here's the system a little earlier at 153 hours.
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For what it's worth, the 18z NAVGEM was significantly different than its 12z run. 12z showed what looked like a moderate TS heading for the northern Gulf Coast, but 18z doesn't really develop anything, it keeps the low very weak and pushes it into the BOC:

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Quoting 884. LargoFl:
well with that front drapping across the northern gulf for days soaking rains etc..add to that something tropical coming into it...if I lived up there..i'd be thinking floods...I remember july by me..and it rained hard..every day for 30 days..ground was water logeed, lakes were all full to the brim..if at that time..we got anything tropical oh boy...the flooding would have been terrible


That's the biggest worry right now. We're pretty much saturated on the panhandle. A slow tropical storm anywhere along the gulf coast would be a major flooding event.
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tropical storm force winds...............
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901. beell
Beginnings of a transition here-sub trop, hybrid.


08/11 18Z GFS 200mb heights, winds @ 135 hrs.
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Quoting 892. MississippiWx:
The GFS digs the upper trough pretty deep into the Gulf. Thus, the hard right turn and not quite as favorable conditions that could be in place had the trough not been so deep. We'll have to watch how far the GFS/other models dig the trough in the coming days to see if it has any potential to become a stronger storm. I'm a little skeptical of a trough that deep in August, but we will see.
Can I have my cookie now? :D

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Quoting 879. marcuskyle:
this is the only fact when it comes to weather: no person and no model can accuratly predict what mother nature will do



Except for you? You've been doing nothing but posting the same downcast with great confidence over and over again. If all you want to do is say the season is a bust why are you here again? What's the fishing term when you cast and then drive slowly in your boat?
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Landall at 159 hours GFS
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Quoting 892. MississippiWx:
The GFS digs the upper trough pretty deep into the Gulf. Thus, the hard right turn and not quite as favorable conditions that could be in place had the trough not been so deep. We'll have to watch how far the GFS/other models dig the trough in the coming days to see if it has any potential to become a stronger storm. I'm a little skeptical of a trough that deep in August, but we will see.


Don't forget that strong front that deviate Charley to Ft Myers.
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Alot of moisture associated with our system as it merge with a trough.



The heavy rains continues for the SE US especially in the panhandle they definitely don't need anymore.
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Quoting 881. beell:


But ain't it a tropical system first?


Think so, but looks like Hart's phase space has lost it..... comes from the East Pacific?


Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 15 Comments: 11343
The GFS digs the upper trough pretty deep into the Gulf. Thus, the hard right turn and not quite as favorable conditions that could be in place had the trough not been so deep. We'll have to watch how far the GFS/other models dig the trough in the coming days to see if it has any potential to become a stronger storm. I'm a little skeptical of a trough that deep in August, but we will see.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting 888. GTstormChaserCaleb:
It definitely looks frontal in nature. Might be like Andrea and Debby. Regardless, that is 2 straight runs into the Northeastern Gulf.



yes and this one is weaker. It will be interesting to see what 0Z has to say....I put little thought into the 18Z
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Camille..........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42141
From Miami NWS Disco

.LONG TERM /WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY/...
LATE WEEK...FLOW IS STILL EXPECTED TO BECOME MORE SOUTHEASTERLY
ALLOWING A DEEP PLUME OF CARIBBEAN MOISTURE INTO THE AREA
INCREASING CHANCES FOR SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS THROUGH THE END
OF THE WEEK. THIS MORE MOIST PATTERN IS EXPECTED TO REMAIN THROUGH
THE WEEKEND AS WELL.

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It definitely looks frontal in nature. Might be like Andrea and Debby. Regardless, that is 2 straight runs into the Northeastern Gulf.

Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8774
Quoting 868. SuperStorm093:
GFS is not a Tropical cyclone, look at the satellite, its like a front.


You need to watch the full model run. A tropical Low moves up from the Caribbean and eventually gets absorbed into a trough that's sitting along the Gulf Coast.
But how strong this tropical low gets is still a mystery (T.D.? T.S.?)
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Quoting 881. beell:


But ain't it a tropical system first?

The model shows it becoming a frontal-type system again.*
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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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