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 881. beell:


But ain't it a tropical system first?

The model shows it becoming a frontal-type system again.*
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30258
Quoting 731. SuperStorm093:
Which is why the world is going downhill, anyone who has a different outlook and doesn't follow the crowd just gets ignored. Everyone who calls for an above average with no backing, gets love on here, anyone who calls for below average with no backing, gets ignored and hated.
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.
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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
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33368
Quoting 850. Gearsts:
Here it comes.


here what comes
the storm for the gulf
naw it forms a reflection by tuseday
sw of hat se of eastern cub
ene of jam drifts towards the yuc westward
be off the nw coast of the yuc by late Thursday

but what do I know

we shall see
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881. beell
Quoting 855. TropicalAnalystwx13:
The GFS shows a frontal-type system again.



But ain't it a tropical system first?
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15327
Quoting 872. weatherlover94:


But remember the 18Z is not a very reliable run
And the 12z?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1019
I was 9.5 when Camille Hit, a full month after the Moon landing it was.

4 years after Billion Dollar Betsy as well.

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CFS showing some more moisture increasing from now till the 18th.



Noting some more precip in the NW Caribbean in response to a possible cyclone developing down there. Currently TCHP are crazy high in that region along with the loop current anything in that area is always something to watch carefully.





18z GFS showing something along the lines of an Andrea type system.

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so a good environment yet a 1006mb storm? sounds a little discredible to me given the pattern
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1243
875. VR46L
Quoting 855. TropicalAnalystwx13:
The GFS shows a frontal-type system again, hence why convection is weighted to one side.



umm it was a depression in the Caribbean and I don't see it gaining isobars like an interaction after a front would ...
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Also look at the wave.
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873. whitewabit (Mod)
Quoting 862. LargoFl:
I think many of the oldtimers remember Camille...man that was one bad storm..just about next week is the anniversary.


Aug 17, 1969, I managed to live through that ..
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 357 Comments: 30145
Quoting 867. Gearsts:
Yes it is but the convection it shows looks to be on 1 side.


But remember the 18Z is not a very reliable run
Member Since: September 8, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1820
Heavy rain maker.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30258
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10156
GFS is not a Tropical cyclone, look at the satellite, its like a front.
Member Since: July 31, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 925
Quoting 860. weatherlover94:


I thought the blue was lighter shear ?
Yes it is but the convection it shows looks to be on 1 side.
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1019
Weaker systems in the GOM are famous for being one sided(all the heavy rain East of the center).
Not saying this will be the case, but a possibity.
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Quoting 854. Patrap:
Three Crow Recipes


There are a few people I would be happy to cook their crow so it tastes delicious. But those are the ones who back up their posts and make educated ideas as to what they think will happen.
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the last thing we need is a TC heading off to the east coast if it makes landfall in the Gulf states

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 13458
I think many of the oldtimers remember Camille...man that was one bad storm..just about next week is the anniversary.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33368
Quoting 855. TropicalAnalystwx13:
The GFS shows a frontal-type system again, hence why convection is weighted to one side.

But why is doing that? Here is the FIM:
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1019
Quoting 836. Gearsts:
Shear will be a problem according to the GFS.


I thought the blue was lighter shear ?
Member Since: September 8, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1820
Quoting TylerStanfield:

If it verifies, the upper air pattern overtop the system would allow for... hmmm what's the word. It starts with an H... Oh right! a Hurricane! Not to say I believe we will get one, but if this Storm that the models have all seemed to pick up on happens, there wouldn't be much there to prohibit strengthening.

If the models are right (and I don't believe they are), this would definitely be at least a minimal hurricane. Except for some shear, the conditions would be pretty good for a hurricane. This supposed low is not going to be the one, but a hurricane is coming from an eastern Caribbean wave that will get into the Gulf before this season is over.
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Quoting 855. TropicalAnalystwx13:
The GFS shows a frontal-type system again.



It not may be fully tropical then.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 13307
18z GFS at 120 hours
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Quoting 850. Gearsts:
Here it comes.


North of Panama.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 13307
The GFS shows a frontal-type system again, hence why convection is weighted to one side.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30258
Three Crow Recipes
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SC nws long range.......................LONG TERM /WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY/...
AS OF 140 PM SUNDAY...THE EXTENDED RANGE CONTINUES TO FEATURE A COLD
AIR DAMMING PATTERN DURING THE LATE WEEK. ALTHOUGH THIS WILL BE A
MUCH COOLER PATTERN...PRECIPITABLE WATER WILL REMAIN HIGH AS THE
FRONT WILL BE JUST SOUTHEAST OF OUR AREA THROUGH MOST OF THE
EXTENDED ALONG WITH STEADY STREAM OF TROPICAL MOISTURE. GFS
PRECIPITABLE WATER VALUES ON AVERAGE FROM DAY 4 TO 7 WILL BE GREATER
THAN 2 SE OF I-85 AND 1.5 TO NEAR 2 INCHES FROM THE MTNS TO I-85.
WAVES OF LOW PRESSURE WILL BRING A THREAT OF WIDESPREAD RAIN...HEAVY
AT TIMES...AND ESPECIALLY ON THURSDAY AND AGAIN SUNDAY ACCORDING TO
CURRENT MODELS. EXPECT A LIGHT NE TO ENE WIND THROUGH NEARLY ALL OF
THE DAY 4 TO 7 TIME WITH VERY LITTLE SUNSHINE. THE MOST SUNSHINE
WOULD LIKELY BE ALONG THE TENNESSEE BORDER FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. ALL
MODELS HAVE SOME TROPICAL FEATURE AT VARIOUS STRENGTHS MOVING
THROUGH THE GULF AND HEADED OUR WAY TO END THE WEEKEND. TEMPERATURES
WILL BE AROUND 10 DEGREES BELOW NORMAL LATE IN THE WEEK AND THROUGH
NEXT WEEKEND.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33368
Quoting 847. TropicalAnalystwx13:

Looks like an anticyclone to me.
But why is the convection on 1 side then?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1019
Here it comes.
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1019
although the GFS shows it as a 1009mb low it could be much stronger given the pattern the GFS shows! GFS shows a great environment for it yet it only strengthens to a 1009mb low?
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1243
Quoting 836. Gearsts:
Shear will be a problem according to the GFS.

Looks like an anticyclone to me.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30258
Quoting 836. Gearsts:
Shear will be a problem according to the GFS.
I thought LOW shear according to the guy when I said shear would be a problem hmm.
Member Since: July 31, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 925
Just got home from work and reading back through the posts...It reads like Thanksgiving at the Grothars.

Let's take a look at the Atlantic...

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Quoting 830. Gearsts:
Big TS

Needs to go to TX
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Quoting 834. marcuskyle:
i thought people were saying it was gonna get active 4 weeks ago >? snoring and still waiting


..Now don't you worry Son, the Basin is going to Pop real soon,

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Quoting 831. whitewabit:


school systems in my area don't allow phones to be used during school hours on school grounds ..


Most don't, mine only recently allowed the use in between classes. That doesn't stop students though, lol.
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still no rain in cayman thunderstoms all around but barely a drop...bit of drizzle late last night....weird
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Quoting 834. marcuskyle:
i thought people were saying it was gonna get active 4 weeks ago >? snoring and still waiting
Even though your on my side, 4 weeks ago it was the beginning on July and it was NEVER supposed to be active.
Member Since: July 31, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 925
Quoting Sfloridacat5:
I have never been impressed by Dr. Gray's pre-season hurricane forecasts vs. actual season totals.

I remember one year when he (his team) was complete wrong. We had a record season and he(his team) said it was going to be a below average season.




That's correct. They got burned bad on the 2005 season, just like all the other forecasters. Any time you have a season that's an all-time record (as far as we know) for both numbers and intensity of hurricanes, it's unlikely the models used to develop the forecasts will get it right. I personally believe that the scientific community should work on seasonal forecasting among themselves, and start doing forecasts when we have better chances of the forecasts being at least 30% better than chance. However, it's free publicity for all the forecasters and their agencies, and it's now kind of a tradition, like Groundhog Day. Just wait until TWC starts making winter storm forecasts....and I know that's coming somewhere down the line. I don't let seasonal forecasts affect what I do every year - prepare for a big hurricane. As long as you don't let the forecasts decide how to prepare, it's just meteorological entertainment. :-)
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 9841
Quoting 831. whitewabit:


school systems in my area don't allow phones to be used during school hours on school grounds ..


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..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 13458
Shear will be a problem according to the GFS.
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1019

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.