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 51. GTstormChaserCaleb:


GT, are you most confident with FIM-9, the high rez?
I have nothing but contempt for 7 after that LA betrayal.
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Quoting 75. weatherlover94:


in 3 or 4 more years the Atlantic may not even have a hurricane season any more....just my thought...conditions are getting worse and worse with every season


Good Morning All..
wl94..
All it takes is one Cat. 3-5 staring at ya to make a season "personal"..
And if it gets ya..
It makes your season..
Just sayin' my friend..

Quoting 74. Socalmargie:
yes i was lurking here before i joined since last may and in june someone would say ( next week things should start heating up and nothing did) then they would say a week later the same thing. then again and again and again every week since june and they still say next week it looks better and so far no weeks since june looks good


Hi Socal..
This is a social place with many diverse opinions and loaded with info so you can make your own conclusions..
I'm not downing ya..
My viewpoint,just mine, is these storms are heat energy movers and don't care about all the conditions coming together..
In fact Hurricaines are one of the least understood weather phenoms that we endure..
Maybe take another look at the recent previous years storm totals and when they became active in short term time-frames might be useful to you..
Just a suggestion.. :)
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Lots of forecast will bust this season mark my word.
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if something does manage to break through the terrible conditions the overall pattern favors at least 1 major US impact
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Super Typhoon...

130 knot wind, Gusts to 160 knots...
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Quoting 67. Socalmargie:
every week someone says that next week it will be more favorable for storms... thats been going on for months now... when will we get any storms. i dont think we will get any more thank god.
agree to some extent I think we will get a few more storm but right now seems like we wont get a storm anytime soon
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Quoting 73. Socalmargie:
from what i watched on the weather chanel last night and other weathetr channels they were saying nothing developing for the next 7 to 10 days at least. they were showing the atlantic pictures that they said are full of dry air. and alot of wind shear every where


in 3 or 4 more years the Atlantic may not even have a hurricane season any more....just my thought...conditions are getting worse and worse with every season
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Quoting 69. SuperStorm093:


We have had 4 Hurricanes...Really? Wow I must have been sleeping lol.



Going on for months? The heart of the season is just starting, so that makes no sense at all.


OHHHH I thought you where talking about named storms. I didn't think you where referring to Hurricanes
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Quoting 66. weatherlover94:


well we already have 4.....I think 9 at the minimum...and 10 at most. I don't think we will get past Ingrid this year unless things go CRAZY


We have had 4 Hurricanes...Really? Wow I must have been sleeping lol.

Quoting 67. Socalmargie:
every week someone says that next week it will be more favorable for storms... thats been going on for months now... when will we get any storms. i dont think we will get any more thank god.


Going on for months? The heart of the season is just starting, so that makes no sense at all.
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Quoting 65. SuperStorm093:
I think we only get 3-5 hurricanes and 1 major.


well we already have 4.....I think 9 at the minimum...and 10 at most. I don't think we will get past Ingrid this year unless things go CRAZY
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I think we only get 3-5 hurricanes and 1 major.
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Quoting 63. TampaSpin:


I gave my reasons why at my blog as well....the Main reason will be the Strong Shear and ULL as a result from the Early Artic Winter. That is my thoughts anyways.



Im sticking with my numbers 10,6,2
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Quoting 60. weatherlover94:


Im beginning to wonder if the Atlantic will ever become favorable for Hurricanes this year or if we are going to have to keep looking at the eastern and western Pacific for the hurricanes


I gave my reasons why at my blog as well....the Main reason will be the Strong Shear and ULL as a result from the Early Artic Winter. That is my thoughts anyways.
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Quoting 60. weatherlover94:


Im beginning to wonder if the Atlantic will ever become favorable for Hurricanes this year or if we are going to have to keep looking at the eastern and western Pacific for the hurricanes


Well, I have been saying that since I started this site about a week ago, how all the predictions are going to bust HIGH, but no one listens to me just cause I don't give any proof or backing.

All I need to say is, the SAL will continue to play at least a factor, with wind shear also. They said we will see 3-5 MAJOR hurricanes, so take 4 as a mean, we have like 10-11 weeks left on the season, so we need to see a MAJOR every 2-3 weeks, which is HIGHLY unlikely and 7-9 hurricanes, so 1 almost every week or so. One again HIGHLY unlikely.
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Quoting 40. GTstormChaserCaleb:
Not sure what you are looking at Ike, but I see a Tropical Storm in the BOC on this mornings run of the GFS. And the Doc. seems to be acknowledging the possibility of development by Saturday. As always things can change and it may just be a weak TD or area of low pressure, but I think conditions will be favorable for development.



Ike is the ultimate downcaster. He loves posting the TWO when nothing is happening and saying it is great news. I think it would be great news if Texas could get a nice Tropical Storm to help them with their drought.
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Quoting 57. SuperStorm093:
No a 50-60 ts, but prob more towards 50 mph. nothing big


Im beginning to wonder if the Atlantic will ever become favorable for Hurricanes this year or if we are going to have to keep looking at the eastern and western Pacific for the hurricanes
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Utor might go through a ERC before landfall.

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Quoting 54. weatherlover94:


Is this a Hurricane ?
No looks like a 60 mph. Tropical Storm on that run, however, if it finds the sweet spot and favorable conditions in the BOC it could become a hurricane.

Have a good day all, I will check back in later.
Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8662
Quoting 54. weatherlover94:


Is this a Hurricane ?
No a 50-60 ts, but prob more towards 50 mph. nothing big
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Quoting 20. LargoFl:
Pacific is roaring,Atlantic is Quiet so far......


Very quiet....when's liftoff????
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Certainly could be far worse, and it's great news Texas has gotten some beneficial rains. If anywhere in the United States could do with a hurricane, it'll be Texas. Not a major hurricane, mind you, but one with lots of rain.


Indeed we could. But right now the soil is so dry it would just wash off. We need about an inch first to open-up the soil, a two day delay, and then a good hosing via a TS from the Gulf. That would fix a lot of our problems!
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Quoting 51. GTstormChaserCaleb:


Is this a Hurricane ?
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Based on the GFS and the NAM they both form a low in the southern Caribbean and move it N.W. towards the BOC.
Not much of threat to the U.S. (as of now), but it does appear that something could form in the BOC in about 5-7 days.
Beyond that, not much going on but that can quickly change.
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 8121
Quoting 14. islander101010:
j.b.s free clip. s. florida is in the middle of his cone of destruction for this cv season good luck all


Where's that quote or link...would love to see that...thanks
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Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8662
Quoting 38. wunderweatherman123:
if we get nothing in august, would you consider this season to be a big disappointment?

Come back Septeber 1st if we are at that point.
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Morning all.....I found it hilarious that the 10till Update from the Weather Channel showed a satellite view of the GOM and that was it for their Tropical Update....I know I only do the Atlantic but I sure didn't know they only do the Atlantic also.....WOW!
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Quoting 44. GTstormChaserCaleb:
Important times coming up for NOAA'S Experimental FIM since it was the first model to sniff out any Western Caribbean/GOM development. We will see if it turns out to be true or if it will bust. But it has support from the GEM and NAVGEM and slowly the GFS.


Do you remember from which date the FIM began to show this GOM scenario?
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14547
As part of NMME Texas would really be happy with NCAR






Not so much with NASA

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Quoting 40. GTstormChaserCaleb:
Not sure what you are looking at Ike, but I see a Tropical Storm in the BOC on this mornings run of the GFS. And the Doc. seems to be acknowledging the possibility of development by Saturday. As always things can change and it may just be a weak TD or area of low pressure, but I think conditions will be favorable for development.



but where does it go from here ? does it go into MX or go toward the northern gulf coast ?
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Quoting 42. beell:


I guess it could be worse!




Certainly could be far worse, and it's great news Texas has gotten some beneficial rains. If anywhere in the United States could do with a hurricane, it'll be Texas. Not a major hurricane, mind you, but one with lots of rain.
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Important times coming up for NOAA'S Experimental FIM since it was the first model to sniff out any Western Caribbean/GOM development. We will see if it turns out to be true or if it will bust. But it has support from the GEM and NAVGEM and slowly the GFS.
Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8662
NMME forecast for Sep, Oct and Nov shows a little positive for Texas. Could also show If used as a proxy for tropical moisture no above normal moisture for the Southeast.



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Quoting 36. CybrTeddy:


Not so wonderful when you have a drought map that looks like this.


I guess it could be worse!


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Quoting 37. Envoirment:


It does show some development in the BOC. It's better to look at the 00z & 12z runs though, as opposed to the 06z and 18z.


Better yet it's smarter to not look beyond 144 hours.
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Quoting 23. IKE:
According to the ECMWF and the GFS, the Atlantic may remain quiet for awhile. Models can change, but right now nothing for at least another week. Great news.

Have a nice Sunday everyone!
Not sure what you are looking at Ike, but I see a Tropical Storm in the BOC on this mornings run of the GFS. And the Doc. seems to be acknowledging the possibility of development by Saturday. As always things can change and it may just be a weak TD or area of low pressure, but I think conditions will be favorable for development.

Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 12 Comments: 8662
Quoting 19. mikatnight:
Trixie & Pee Wee - a neighbor's dogs - and Dexter pose for a pic for this Sunday's walk.


Very nice pic with the three dogs! Thanks, I enjoyed it, as always!


Back to Utor: Best thing of this storm may be that later it should mitigate the horrible heat and drought in South Eastern China, at least parts of it; quoting TWC:

After hitting the Philippines, Utor is expected to move into the South China Sea and then into southeastern China or northern Vietnam early in the week ahead.
Much of east-central and southeast China has been blistering under a historic heat wave for the past six weeks, so a tropical cyclone with rainfall might be welcome in that region if the winds weaken significantly. There is a strong possibility, however, that Utor will remain a typhoon all the way to the Asian mainland.

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Quoting 29. CybrTeddy:


Go back to August 10th, 2010. Look at the blogs then, the GFS didn't show anything through August 27th. We got Danielle and Earl by then.
if we get nothing in august, would you consider this season to be a big disappointment?
Member Since: August 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1725
Quoting 28. wunderweatherman123:
Does anybody find it strange that the GFS shows absolutetly nothing developing in the atlantic by august 27? i do


It does show some development in the BOC. It's better to look at the 00z & 12z runs though, as opposed to the 06z and 18z.
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Quoting 31. Walshy:


Wonderful news to hear when the drought map looks like this.



Not so wonderful when you have a drought map that looks like this.
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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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