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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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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Quoting 171. AussieStorm:
If anyone wants the Radar for the Philippines. Go here and under Doppler select Subic.

Aussie, thanks for sharing. I cannot imagine being in a boat of ANY size ahead of a monster like that.
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TPPN12 PGTW 111538 COR

A. SUPER TYPHOON 11W (UTOR)

B. 11/1432Z

C. 15.7N

D. 122.8E

E. FIVE/MTSAT

F. T6.0/7.0/D1.0/24HRS STT: W1.0/03HRS

G. IR/EIR

H. REMARKS: 46A/PBO EMBD CNTR/ANMTN. LLCC EMBEDDED IN CMG
YIELDS A CF OF 5.0. ADDED 0.5 FOR BF YIELDS A 5.5 DT. MET AND
PT YIELD A 6.0. DBO PT DUE TO CONSTRAINTS. COR LINE F.

I. ADDITIONAL POSITIONS:
11/1206Z 15.4N 123.5E SSMS
11/1238Z 15.4N 123.3E MMHS
11/1324Z 15.8N 123.2E MMHS


BERMEA
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Quoting 178. AussieStorm:





Where's the Eye?
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11W UTOR INTENSE CYCLONE WARNING
NEARING LANDFALL
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The part about anti-cyclonic gyres at 200mb trailing the active phase is what I was also alluding to earlier about significant TC formation as the pulse enters phases 2 and 3; (just as an FYI and to tie the theme of my MJO posts today together...)
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Quoting 174. yqt1001:


EWRC anyone?

Yeah, i think we are undergoing eyewall replacement.
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A low pressure has been added to wave/pouch 20L in Eastern Atlantic at 12z surface analysis.

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The Bermuda High and the so called death ridge have bridged.



This wave over Central Africa will be our next named system..jmo.
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Quoting 160. skycycle:
Good day to everyone... I see that Utor has reached 150mph winds, can anyone give us some up-to-date images and info on the storm, or a link where we can get some? Curious to hear if it has time to intensify a bit more, or what the potential impact can be for Luzon?


Link

Link is for JTWC
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Quoting 165. CybrTeddy:


So did 2010, which is even more telling as that season produced 16 named storms, 11 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes from August 21st with the formation of Danielle to November 7th with the dissipation of Tomas.
In 1969, the tally as of August 10 was 1-0-0. The 'B' storm didn't form until August 11 (today), yet the season ended in late November at 18-12-5. (And the 'C' storm? That was a little swirl that went by the name "Camille".)
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EWRC anyone?
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Another website for Philippines Radar is this.
Again click on Doppler and select from the list.

Current Manila Radar...

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Quoting 166. msphar:
I have often wondered what moves the MJO from quadrant to quadrant ? This is an atmospheric thing right ?




Surface air flows away from the suppressed convection in both zonal directions towards enhanced convection regions. In the upper troposphere, anomalous easterlies exit the west side of the enhanced convection (Figure 2). The strong westerlies from the east side of the enhanced convection flow into the region of suppressed convection (Figure 3, from (4)). When suppressed convection is strong from the Indian Ocean to the middle Pacific Ocean, anomalous cyclonic gyres at 200 mb trail the region of suppressed convection. Similarly, anticyclonic gyres at 200 mb trail the enhanced convection region once it becomes strong in the Indian and western Pacific Oceans. Gyres in the opposite sense are produced at surface, but they are much weaker than the ones at the tropopause. The zonal circulation and horizontal gyres are important processes by which the MJO shuffles mass around the tropics.

Much, much, much more info here.
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If anyone wants the Radar for the Philippines. Go here and under Doppler select Subic.
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Quoting 142. chrisdscane:



Wow MJO still 30 days out.


Basic question for anyone - I thought the MJO mattered less the further into the season we are. Do I have that wrong?
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Quoting 160. skycycle:
Good day to everyone... I see that Utor has reached 150mph winds, can anyone give us some up-to-date images and info on the storm, or a link where we can get some? Curious to hear if it has time to intensify a bit more, or what the potential impact can be for Luzon?


Link


Link







Link
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Lake Okeechobee, FL
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Utor peaked at 130kts and 926mb/925mb (JMA and JTWC were unusually close). This makes Utor the strongest storm in 2013.
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I have often wondered what moves the MJO from quadrant to quadrant ? This is an atmospheric thing right ?
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Quoting 132. wxgeek723:
1998 featured a lull during the first half of August.

Enough said.


So did 2010, which is even more telling as that season produced 16 named storms, 11 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes from August 21st with the formation of Danielle to November 7th with the dissipation of Tomas.
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Quoting barbamz:
33 Missing in Bicol as Labuyo / Utor approaches the Philippines
Published on August 11, 2013 by robert speta

Thirty Three Fishermen have gone missing in Catanduanes since Saturday. Waves across the island are kicking up to 5m high and Typhoon Labuyo is still intensifying making and search and rescue efforts extremely dangerous and almost futile.

APDRRMC spokesperson said the 33 fishermen were from four towns including Pandan, Gigmoto, Virac and Bagamonoc. Initially the number of people missing was fourty yet seven have returned home. Lets hope the other 33 have simialer fate.

Despite the news of the storm system approaching the fishermen still ventured out on Saturday. Granted through Saturday evening PAGASA was still calling this storm a %u201CTropical Storm%u201D despite other agencies upgrading it to a violent Typhoon. This may have not set off alarms for many people especially fishermen who make there lives at the sea. ...


It always happens. I have a severe dislike for PAGASA. They under forecast and are late to forecast. As Dr. Masters wrote, STY Bopha was a Cat 5 with of 160 mph (260 km/h) which should of meant PAGASA to put out a Signal #4 warning which much more people would of been forced to evacuate, yet only a Signal #3 warning was issued.

By the way, In Tagalog(Native Filipino language) Labuyo means wild chicken.

24hr rainfall....



Current Radar...



Not long now....
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Quoting 138. Neapolitan:
I found several years ago that lulls in tropical activity are a great time to populate one's ignore list. That's because at times like this, the truly trollish can't help but give themselves away by posting one nonsensical, ungrammatical, error-ridden comment after another in an endless and desperate display of attention-seeking. When they belie themselves in such a manner--and they always do--I quickly hit the 'Ignore User' link and move on as peaceful as ever. Just a suggestion: if everyone else would do the same, this would be a lot more productive and happy place.


I don't think I could plus this enough.
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12z NAM with the Caribbean Low moving N.W. The NAM has been very consistant over the past few days about this low forming and moving N.W.
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Quoting 38. wunderweatherman123:
if we get nothing in august, would you consider this season to be a big disappointment?

I would consider it a disspointment if nothing else formed the whole season
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Good day to everyone... I see that Utor has reached 150mph winds, can anyone give us some up-to-date images and info on the storm, or a link where we can get some? Curious to hear if it has time to intensify a bit more, or what the potential impact can be for Luzon?
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Light rain... I want heavy rain!
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Quoting 156. unknowncomic:
Will the end of that tail turn left or keep going right?


The mechanism that drives the MJO physically favors travel from the W to the E so the sensible answer would be 'towards the next octant' in that direction.

Like I said though, MJO forecasts have not been anything too great this summer season; Grains of Salt should be applied liberally to any forecast. :)
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Mean while, in the western pacific, we have a monster of a storm.
Just because activity is quiet in the atlantic does not mean we dont have something to track.

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Quoting 153. seminolesfan:




Actually,believe it or not it did rotate through our octants but it was very weak/non-existent in magnitude the last cycle. MJO forecasts have been poor in relation to intensity this year.

One other often missed detail of the MJO is that the intitial 'uplift/moist' phase isn't as favorable to significant TC development as the 'tail-end' once the main pulse of the Kwave is toward #2 and #3.
Will the end of that tail turn left or keep going right?
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Quoting 22. LargoFl:
The central Africa system already looking like storm.
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Quoting 148. Socalmargie:
who do you think you are talking to ? ive been on this site for a week and i see and hear alot of nonsense so please dont include me in any of it thank you. time for me to go


I tried not to quote..
But gotta..
You say you see and hear alot of nonsense hear..
I tried to bring some sensibility to your attention..
And it failed to get you to stop and think..
This is the most informed and intelligent weather blog on the web..
I guess it's not happening with you..
Sorry..

In you go to the Ignore chamber where you and your friends can listen to each others "nonsense"..
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Quoting 147. TampaSpin:



Ya, MJO was forecast to be here a month ago and never arrived....Don't put to much stock into that. But, it would be some interesting Tropics for sure if so.




Actually,believe it or not it did rotate through our octants but it was very weak/non-existent in magnitude the last cycle. MJO forecasts have been poor in relation to intensity this year.

One other often missed detail of the MJO is that the intitial 'uplift/moist' phase isn't as favorable to significant TC development as the 'tail-end' once the main pulse of the Kwave is toward #2 and #3.
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Quoting 125. TampaSpin:
A Season BUST as some use the term is WHAT....NO MAJOR LAND FALLING CANE, NOT MEETING THE FORECAST TOTAL, What exactly is a SEASON BUST....I HATE THAT TERM and will never use it.

I would call a season a bust if no storms formed :)
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I'm out of here....PLAY NICE PEOPLE.....I know what its like when the Atlantic is quite in here....NOT FUN FOR MANY so I limit my time....its better for my Blood pressure....:)
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Quoting 144. Siker:
He just doesn't want to make a backstory xD.

I'll say this again people, Socalmargie is very obviously nostorminflorida, if you look at the join date and the "dry air and shear and forecasters suck" comments this is pretty clear, please don't play with him.


Ahh. Thanks for the heads-up.
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Quoting 141. Socalmargie:
usually we get rain in novenber and december but that changes


okay, a pretty short rain season :(
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Quoting 142. chrisdscane:



Wow MJO still 30 days out.



Ya, MJO was forecast to be here a month ago and never arrived....Don't put to much stock into that. But, it would be some interesting Tropics for sure if so.
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Bust is a term from Blackjack.
It is used to also describe a forecast that did not verify.
It is used way too frequently, IMO.
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and shear in the Carb much to strong 40kts+
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144. Siker
Quoting 134. aquak9:


personal questions? oh dear sweet buddha in a basket. (rolls eyes)

Sorry you outgrew the Barbie dolls.

Have fun.
He just doesn't want to make a backstory xD.

I'll say this again people, Socalmargie is very obviously nostorminflorida, if you look at the join date and the "dry air and shear and forecasters suck" comments this is pretty clear, please don't play with him.
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Wow MJO still 30 days out.
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Quoting 138. Neapolitan:
I found several years ago that lulls in tropical activity such as this are a great time to populate one's ignore list. That's because at times like this, the truly trollish can't help but give themselves away by posting one nonsensical, ungrammatical, error-ridden comment after another in desperate displays of attention-seeking. When they belie themselves in such a manner--and they always do--I quickly hit the 'Ignore User' link and move on as peaceful as ever. Just a suggestion: if everyone else would do the same, this would be a lot more productive and happy place.


I try not to ignore anyone.....ONLY THOSE THAT RUFFLE ME BAD....:)
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It's kinda like poking a stick into an ant's nest, Nea. I just can't resist! :)
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I found several years ago that lulls in tropical activity are a great time to populate one's ignore list. That's because at times like this, the truly trollish can't help but give themselves away by posting one nonsensical, ungrammatical, error-ridden comment after another in an endless and desperate display of attention-seeking. When they belie themselves in such a manner--and they always do--I quickly hit the 'Ignore User' link and move on as peaceful as ever. Just a suggestion: if everyone else would do the same, this would be a lot more productive and happy place.
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137. wxmod
North Pole in lower left. MODIS satellite image.

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Everyone saying that the season will be a bust but if you look at the most active seasons on record only 5 seasons have been more active at this stage so far. Lets talk again the same time next month then we will see how much of a bust this season will be.
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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.