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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Early recurves of stronger storms will likely be expected this season, but for those that make it across look out as if those storms miss their exits they will track long.

Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8682
12Z GFS and CMC at 102HR
GFS

CMC
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Quoting 231. GTstormChaserCaleb:
GEM out to 90 hrs. has the low pressure further south.



NAVGEM out to 132 hrs. shows the low pressure moving off the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.



Now we await the Euro to see what it shows, then we would have all of the major reliable global models showing some kind of development.

Hopefully the FIM plays out!
Member Since: September 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1148
Don't rely on the MJO, a storm can happen at any time , but more can occur in a MJO. The FIM - 7 will have to be adjusted more to east towards Florida to Mississippi !
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232. JRRP
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GEM out to 90 hrs. has the low pressure further south.



NAVGEM out to 132 hrs. shows the low pressure moving off the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.



Now we await the Euro to see what it shows, then we would have all of the major reliable global models showing some kind of development.
Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8682
Quoting 214. GTstormChaserCaleb:
You have a point there. You look at the shape of the cloud field on Levi's IR-Simulation grid.





Exactly. :) You see what I'm getting at...

This is in no way a forecast from me as far as the outcome or anything other than a diagnostic analysis of the layers shown by THIS model on THIS run.

Models are tough business, even with a vort max to initialize. The ensemble forecast techniques have the most merit on longer range validation, but even then analysis is mostly only valid for synoptic scale forecasting due to the nature of ensemble error-case introductions to initial conditions.
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Link

hmm ?
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Member Since: September 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1148
Quoting 224. weatherlover94:


if this holds true the season is over. This will take it out near the end of September
No it is not you do not need the MJO for the season to be active.
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Figures the GFS would show stronger systems on this run.

Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8682
225. TXCWC
Quoting 219. LAbonbon:


Hey, TXCWC, I was reading through the remainder of the last blog. Thanks for the clarification about the FIM versions, and for the link.


No problem :) The FIMs have definetly begun to grow on me given the apparent competitivness they have shown with the GFS and with some storms even the Euro. I now consider the FIM 9 and possibly FIM 8 along with the GFS and Euro as the best dynamic models available in terms of tropical storm tracking...just my opinion of course.
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Quoting 142. chrisdscane:



Wow MJO still 30 days out.


if this holds true the season is over. This will take it out near the end of September
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Yep, have to see what the next few runs look like. But for the past few days the GFS and NAM has been hinting at a system in the GOM or BOC.
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Member Since: September 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1148
Quoting 217. seminolesfan:

With this type of synoptic setup and


this pop distribution,

at 150hrs!!!(coin toss time)

There is a lot of evidence of some frontal low type presentation of the AOI for the low shown in THIS run...
We've got to think with the time of year we are in this could very well transition from cold to warm core before landfall much quicker than say june or Oct.

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Quoting 216. Tropicsweatherpr:
Apart from the GOM,does 12z GFS has something from CV?
So far nothing through 228 hrs.

Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8682
Quoting 208. TXCWC:


Looks like the GFS just blinked to what FIM models have been showing for some time now...in terms of a more northern route in the Gulf...still time for track adjustments but southern Mexico landfall looking less likely currently...now if they would just start to show a more Texas type of path to get some widespread decent rains over here


Hey, TXCWC, I was reading through the remainder of the last blog. Thanks for the clarification about the FIM versions, and for the link.
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Quoting 168. SFLWeatherman:
Lake Okeechobee, FL


Human meddling . They've dumped huge water this season only to decimate the St Lucie and the Caloosahatchee estuaries . The Army Corp of Engineers and SFWMD are just p*mps for big sugar and agriculture . Irritates me to see the destruction .
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With this type of synoptic setup and


this pop distribution,

at 150hrs!!!(coin toss time)

There is a lot of evidence for some frontal low type presentation of the AOI for the low shown in THIS run...
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Apart from the GOM,does 12z GFS has something from CV?
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If this does develop, track will depend on how much of a trough develops and location of where this develops. If it does further east, then it could go further east. If it takes time to develop, it could go further west and miss the trough.

Also more runs are needed over the next 2-3 days on consistency. Just to note..the GFS is usually to conservative on the strength of a system. If it's showing 1002mbs....generally it will a few mbs lower.
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Quoting 210. seminolesfan:
Everyone knows I don't play the long range model game but here goes my analysis of the 12zGFS@100+ish hrs:



Rounding the edge of the Midlevel ridge with this:

upper air environment, seems to be a set-up for some cold-core/baro processes in the low seen on the run.

Not sure if this is a tropical low shown on this run.
You have a point there. You look at the shape of the cloud field on Levi's IR-Simulation grid.



Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8682
Good Day All! The North Atlantic, The GOM , The Caribbean , are ticking time bombs ! Just ready to be set off , it's just a matter of when , I believe it's very soon ! Despite what any model says.
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This looks like an Opal like track. Just not a strong.



Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8682
TYPHOON WARNING 12
AT 1200 11 AUGUST TYPHOON (UTOR) {1311} WAS LOCATED AT ONE FIVE POINT FIVE NORTH(15.5N) ONE
TWO THREE POINT FIVE EAST(123.5E) FORECAST TO MOVE WEST NORTHWEST AT ZERO FIVE METERS PER
SECOND(05m/s)
ROUGH TO PHENOMENAL SEAS WITHIN THREE ZERO ZERO KILOMETER RADIUS FROM CENTER(300km or 186miles))

ESTIMATED CENTRAL PRESSURE: NINE FOUR EIGHT HECTOPASCALS(948hPa)
MAXIMUM WINDS: FOUR NINE METERS PER SECOND NEAR CENTER(49m/s or 109.6mph)
THREE THREE METERS PER SECOND WITHIN ONE ZERO ZERO KILOMETER RADIUS(33m/s or 73.82mph)
ONE THREE METERS PER SECOND WITHIN THREE ZERO ZERO KILOMETERS RADIUS FROM CENTER(13m/s or 29.08mph)
FORECAST POSITIONS AT 121200
ONE SEVEN POINT SEVEN NORTH(17.7N)
ONE ONE NINE POINT SEVEN EAST(119.7E)
AND AT 131200
TWO ZERO POINT SEVEN NORTH(20.7N)
ONE ONE SIX POINT THREE EAST(116.3E)
ALL SHIPS WITHIN TYPHOON AREA ARE REQUESTED TO SEND THREE
HOURLY WEATHER REPORT TO WEATHER MANILA PD
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Everyone knows I don't play the long range model game but here goes my analysis of the 12zGFS@100+ish hrs:



Rounding the edge of the Midlevel ridge with this:

upper air environment, seems to be a set-up for some cold-core/baro processes in the low seen on the run.

Not sure if this is a tropical low shown on this run.
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Good morning, afternoon and evening everyone. A warm 86 degrees with a heat index of 96 already. It's going to be a very hot one today. There's a 50% chance of rain, but none in sight yet. I'm crossing fingers it comes about.

Breakfast's on the sideboard: Biscuits with country sausage gravy, Slow-Poached Eggs with Shrimp and cheesy Grits, beignets smothered in powdered sugar, sweet potato pancakes, buttermilk cornbread, sweet corn fritters, johnny cakes, cheese danishes, yogurt, fresh fruit and orange, apple or pineapple juice. Enjoy!
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208. TXCWC
Quoting 204. GTstormChaserCaleb:
This is the strongest run yet the GFS has shown the GOM storm. Now we look for consistency to see if the 18z run will show it.


Looks like the GFS just blinked to what FIM models have been showing for some time now...in terms of a more northern route in the Gulf...still time for track adjustments but southern Mexico landfall looking less likely currently...now if they would just start to show a more Texas type of path to get some widespread decent rains over here
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Looks as though the steering pattern is becoming established in the Atlantic and it is not a good one to say the least.

Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8682
Quoting 182. KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
11W UTOR INTENSE CYCLONE WARNING
NEARING LANDFALL
Utor may be having an ERC. That would take the wind down to cat-3 or so..

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Its going to be crucial as to where this disturbance comes off the Yucatan, Northern Tip will head like the GFS and CMC, Western Tip will have a more westward path. Fun times ahead!
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This is the strongest run yet the GFS has shown the GOM storm. Now we look for consistency to see if the 18z run will show it.
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203. tj175
How can you this season a bust when it hasn't even really started yet? Remember the 2004 season started with our 1st named storm on August 3 with Hurricane
Alex. and we all here in Florida remember very well how that season turned out. Be very careful with the term bust because it might come back to bite you in the rear if you know what I mean.
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Quoting Lonewulf:


The thing about the Atlantic hurricane season is how dynamic it is, conditions change. I've lived on the east coast most of my life, and been around WU since Hurricane Bret hit S. Texas back in 2000. I'm not going to be like some of the die hards on here and say you are wrong, the season hasn't really started yet, etc... I'm just going to say it's best to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. Maybe our luck will continue and we won't get hit by a major this year, but the models that we use to predict the weather are leaning in that direction.


Dont bet on it the hurricanes are coming give it some time. 2010 was 3rd most active season earl developed august 25th. Keep in mind 80 percent of major canes that hit the US, do so between Aug 15th and Oct 20th (the real season); so what happens before then doesn't mean nada.
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153 hrs.

Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8682
...and just like that, the GFS takes a tropical storm into the Gulf Coast.

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Quoting 194. GTstormChaserCaleb:
Shhh...be very quiet and don't tell anyone the GFS shows a storm in the GOM. Ok? :P

Yea....shhhh. we hunting wabbits.

only 5 days out.
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The wave -- tropical or not -- that should be (at least in my opinion) responsible for tropical cyclogenesis in the Gulf in a few days looks horrible on satellite imagery right now. Wind shear is a strong 30-40 knots from the west...the direction it's headed...and it doesn't have quite as much support from the upper-level trough to its northwest. As this feature continues towards the central and western Caribbean, it should naturally look better as it reaches the southwestern periphery of the Atlantic ridge where air slows and convergences (piles up) creating widespread thunderstorm activity. Thankfully for it, upper-level high pressure is building in the southwestern Caribbean. The trough causing the wind shear is finally expected to pull westward and weaken, allowing this ridging -- and subsequent low wind shear -- to expand across the region. Pressures are already low across the region, so this should help the feature develop more. I think the NAVGEM and CMC are actually onto something. A stronger system -- strong tropical storm or hurricane -- will likely be apt to go northeast into the East Gulf Coast, while a weak system -- tropical depression or disturbance -- should follow the low-level flow into Mexico or extreme southern Texas.

If you have a hard time tracking it w/ satellite imagery, its elongated spin is evident in 700mb maps:

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Well now what do we have here?

Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8682
Would an eye be better than no eye? Temporarily relief versus none in a storm that strong?
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12Z GFS (96 hours)
Low pressure about to cross the Yucatan.
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Shhh...be very quiet and don't tell anyone the GFS shows a storm in the GOM. Ok? :P

Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8682
Quoting 159. CaribBoy:


Light rain... I want heavy rain!


Heavy rain here in ANU.
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Quoting 62901IL:

Where's the Eye?


If you can't see one, nor can I, so why are you asking? As it's been said before Utor is currently going through a EWRC.
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Not much action in the Atlantic Basin. Take note of the circulation on the Panama coast.
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thanks SFan
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Quoting 183. 62901IL:

Where's the Eye?
EWRC but disruptions to the storm are likely as it approaches and crosses Luzon expect flash flooding rains and winds in excess og 110 mph with higher gusts once across RI is likely 12 HRS later
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Quoting 183. 62901IL:

Where's the Eye?
In the changing room--and very fortunately so.
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Double post
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Utor is in the process of an Eyewall Replacement Cycle. Unfortunately, it still is...and will remain...an extremely dangerous typhoon up to landfall. Flooding will be a huge issue on top of the 115 mph+ sustained winds.

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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.