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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1286. sar2401
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Post from Larry Cosgrove:

"Am update on the potential for tropical cyclone strikes between now and the end of the month....

1) I have identified perhaps two (possibly three) disturbances which could target the Gulf of Mexico coastline between now and the end of the month. A look at GOES EAST satellite imagery reveals the first "contender" over the Windward Islands. This feature should move through the Caribbean Sea, and could tap into energy and moisture now bombarding Panama, Colombia and Venezuela (you can see the rough appearance of a cyclonic "circulation" imprint on the ITCZ in that vicinity).

2) After passing through the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula around August 15, the impulse should reach a 500MB weakness squarely over the central Gulf of Mexico. That discontinuity should enable a northward turn for the system over very warm waters, facilitating intensification.

3) Following the ensemble members of all three major numerical models, I suspect this system will become a tropical storm (Erin) and reach Louisiana near Morgan City or Houma (somewhat to the left of the operational GFS series, which places the best landfall threat near Mobile AL).

4) In keeping with recent storms named Erin, I fully expect this feature to be a huge rainmaker. Note the interaction with a diffuse frontal structure over the Old South and Appalachia. Stuck between a weak Sonoran heat ridge and the stable Bermuda High (which only starts to expand westward during the 11 - 15 day period, this storm could be a prolific rain event, with as much as 10 - 15 inch precipitation amounts along and about 400 miles west of the Interstate 85 corridor. In time the torrential rain and flood risk will reach the Ohio Valley. But my earliest speculations on storm track are west of the Piedmont/Atlantic Coastal Plain scenario shown on the standard GFS runs at 12z and 18z.

5) I expect that another, probably stronger tropical wave will organize from a Cape Verde impulse, and move through the Greater Antilles. Since the Bermudan heat ridge complex will be expanding and retrogressing somewhat by that time, the new disturbance will slow somewhat and take a more westward track. The very early betting line would suggest somewhere between Brownsville TX and Matagorda TX. My suspicion is that this "second feature" will be stronger than the low implicated for the central Gulf Coast next weekend.

Sta tuned...."

Interesting analysis. I think the weekend/early next weeks low's strength will depend on how much energy it brings with it from the ITCZ and if that "weakness" in the Gulf is just a weakness or an actual low. I agree the Mobile landfall is too far east, since the low will go straight north once it intensifies. My best guess is somewhere within 50 miles of Waveland MS. I think it will be a TS but it may have a small chance to become a minimal hurricane if it can spend about 12 hours over the loop current. I don't buy the prolific rainmaker diagnosis, since it should move into drier, cooler, and more stable air as it moves north.

I don't have any kind of feeling for the CV storm. There's no doubt in my mind one will form before the end of the month but there are just too many variables this far out.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 9634
I was labeled a Downcaster yesterday....I guess I am a WishCaster today....LOL
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Quoting 1269. Grothar:
\

What's a henway??


About 3 pounds. .... Geoffry went to bed. I guess I get to fill in. .... Don't tell him I stole his line. :)
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Quoting 1282. KoritheMan:


Are every single one of your posts complaining about the season in some way?

Just asking.


Where did I complain about this season in that? Thank you.
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Quoting 1276. SuperStorm093:
One thing I hate that I hear is that, example: 1969 started off slow but ramped up. Yes, conditions were probably way favorable, conditions are different than that year.


Are every single one of your posts complaining about the season in some way?

Just asking.
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1281. Grothar
Quoting 1229. redwagon:


When our betters discuss CV 'pouches', I visualize marsupial or diplomatic renderings.

What does everybody else visualize?


I don't think we can put that on the blog.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23672
1280. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
00Z GFS HR 96 FRI AUG 16

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52096
Quoting 1275. JLPR2:


Yep those are all consequences that come naturally after a tropical cyclone, it's worse in some areas than others. But all the problems the band of people who don't want a storm have with the ones who do and them trying to change the other's opinion is useless.

You may want it, you may pray for it, you can even invent a storm attracting dance, but if the atmospheric patterns aren't in place for the storm to hit your area, it wont, it doesn't matter how hard you wish for it.

Also, you never know what you have until you loose it or you never know how it feels until you experience it.


Wait... really? But I thought...

*runs off crying*
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Going to be a one sided storm, probably NOT! tropical again according to the GFS.
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Quoting 1273. TropicalAnalystwx13:

Winky faces have become popular lately. ;)


Yeah bro. ;)
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One thing I hate that I hear is that, example: 1969 started off slow but ramped up. Yes, conditions were probably way favorable, conditions are different than that year.
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1275. JLPR2
Quoting 1256. llpj04:
For those wanting a storm to hit your area- -- It is not just the storm you have to worry about when you are hit, or the dangerous heat conditions on your elderly parents, or the uncomfortable whining kids,or the long lines waiting for fuel to have it run out when it is almost your turn.  It is about the behaviour of other people and times are harder now than they were in Katrina.  You don't realize how quickly your nice neighborhood can become uncivilized until you can't use your cell phone to call police & don't have a husband or Daddy (for those of you still living at home) to protect you.  
 It is the crazy people that try to break into your home  if they think you are away just because you have your house boarded up (happened to me) & the even crazier people that stop your vehicle to rob & beat you up in the middle of the street in daylight because they know your cell phones don't work to call the police!!! Happened  on our road just a mile from my house & I don't live in a terrible neighborhood!!! 



Yep those are all consequences that come naturally after a tropical cyclone, it's worse in some areas than others. But all the problems the band of people who don't want a storm have with the ones who do and them trying to change the other's opinion is useless.

You may want it, you may pray for it, you can even invent a storm attracting dance, but if the atmospheric patterns aren't in place for the storm to hit your area, it wont, it doesn't matter how hard you wish for it.

Also, you never know what you have until you loose it or you never know how it feels until you experience it.
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Good Morning.........looks like we might have some action moving out of the Caribbean into the Gulf in about 5-7 days.....READY SET GO!
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Quoting 1268. KoritheMan:


I knew it was going to come out that way, haha; believe me, I wasn't angry.

I guess I should take the advice I gave Isaac next time and stick an emoticon somewhere at the end of my post to indicate the levity on my part. :P

Winky faces have become popular lately. ;)
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30237
1272. Grothar
Quoting 1264. JLPR2:


And that's why I have taken to calling them disturbances or spins. :P


Good words. I guess after 40 years of marriage,
"disturbance" should fall trippingly from my tongue.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23672
Just FYI, Saturday, 17th will be the 44th anniversary of Camille's landfall. And, when we talk about an above average active season, by that time there had only been two named storms. That year there were 18 storms with 12 hurricanes. Lots of season left yet.




If modeling holds up, we should start seeing some Caribbean vorticity and some clouds consolidating about mid-week. I've a busy couple of days ahead, so y'all hold the fort down and keep the doors closed, well, except towards TX! ;) (Just wishin' rain for TX!)

I'm out for a late night snack and some shuteye! Have a GR8 Monday, everyone!
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WOW LOOK AT THIS LOW HERE! 1008MB
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1269. Grothar
Quoting 1232. GeoffreyWPB:


No...that is one of Gro's usual henways.
\

What's a henway??
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23672
Quoting 1265. TropicalAnalystwx13:

Stop getting angry for no reason. Nowhere in that post did he/she call people that want a system ignorant or stupid, etc. Was just giving something y'all to consider.

Lol.


I knew it was going to come out that way, haha; believe me, I wasn't angry.

I guess I should take the advice I gave Isaac next time and stick an emoticon somewhere at the end of my post to indicate the levity on my part. :P
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Quoting 1266. Camille33:

Gfs near isle of youth similar to hurricane camille!! Watch out now!!


SIMILAR to the track, NOT! the intensity, just want people to know.
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Gfs near isle of youth similar to hurricane camille!! Watch out now!!
Member Since: July 2, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 1256
Quoting 1261. KoritheMan:


Dude, do you seriously think I don't consider all this? Just because I want a storm doesn't mean I'm ignorant, stupid, or any other word you can think of.

I live in the same state you do, for god's sake.

Stop getting angry for no reason. Nowhere in that post did he/she call people that want a system ignorant or stupid, etc. Was just giving something y'all to consider.

Lol.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30237
1264. JLPR2
Quoting 1259. Grothar:


Actually, Kori is correct. It may not be technically a wave. I called it that because I was too tired to write cluster of thunderstorms. A tropical wave has specific characteristics and a criteria of conditions which make it a wave. Not every complex is a wave. However, many of these can hold together and cause a little trouble


And that's why I have taken to calling them disturbances or spins. :P
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Quoting 1253. RGVtropicalWx13:

They only color it for the first 48 hrs only.. that 20 is in the next 5 days

Thats why I acknowledged the 20 was in 5 days...The near 0% was for 48 hours which normally is colored. But who cares I guess. The NHC is watchin it is all that matters.
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Quoting 1223. Grothar:


Yeah, A girl I went to high school with. Gained 50 lbs in our junior year.


Gro,

I went to school with a Mary Alice also down in SE LA. I didn't keep up after high school but she just got prettier and prettier in the years I knew her.

Thanks for the memory.
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Quoting 1256. llpj04:
For those wanting a storm to hit your area- -- It is not just the storm you have to worry about when you are hit, or the dangerous heat conditions on your elderly parents, or the uncomfortable whining kids,or the long lines waiting for fuel to have it run out when it is almost your turn.It is about the behaviour of other people and times are harder now than they were in Katrina.You don't realize how quickly your nice neighborhood can become uncivilized until you can't use your cell phone to call police & don't have a husband or Daddy (for those of you still living at home) to protect you.
It is the crazy people that try to break into your home if they think you are away just because you have your house boarded up (happened to me) & the even crazier people that stop your vehicle to rob & beat you up in the middle of the street in daylight because they know your cell phones don't work to call the police!!! Happened on our road just a mile from my house & I don't live in a terrible neighborhood!!!



Dude, do you seriously think I don't consider all this? Just because I want a storm doesn't mean I'm ignorant, stupid, or any other word you can think of.

I live in the same state you do, for god's sake.

Also, I don't doubt that these things happen, but at least where I live, I've never even heard of such incidents happening anywhere close to where I live.
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Quoting 1257. JLPR2:


Nope. Just trying to survive.


Probably it may start to get going around 55W. Just a guess.
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1259. Grothar
Quoting 1235. Tropicsweatherpr:


Hi Gro. This one will be a big player down the road.


Actually, Kori is correct. It may not be technically a wave. I called it that because I was too tired to write cluster of thunderstorms. A tropical wave has specific characteristics and a criteria of conditions which make it a wave. Not every complex is a wave. However, many of these can hold together and cause a little trouble
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23672
Quoting 1252. Some1Has2BtheRookie:


Are you going to wait for it?


Lol....No, time for bed :)
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1257. JLPR2
Quoting 1250. mitchelace5:


Is it trying to organize?


Nope. Just trying to survive.
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1256. llpj04
For those wanting a storm to hit your area- -- It is not just the storm you have to worry about when you are hit, or the dangerous heat conditions on your elderly parents, or the uncomfortable whining kids,or the long lines waiting for fuel to have it run out when it is almost your turn.  It is about the behaviour of other people and times are harder now than they were in Katrina.  You don't realize how quickly your nice neighborhood can become uncivilized until you can't use your cell phone to call police & don't have a husband or Daddy (for those of you still living at home) to protect you.  
 It is the crazy people that try to break into your home  if they think you are away just because you have your house boarded up (happened to me) & the even crazier people that stop your vehicle to rob & beat you up in the middle of the street in daylight because they know your cell phones don't work to call the police!!! Happened  on our road just a mile from my house & I don't live in a terrible neighborhood!!! 

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Quoting 1241. KoritheMan:


Destructive yes, but hardly calamitous. I dunno, maybe I'm spoiled because we get severe windstorms so often down here that the kind of winds bassis was describing seem fairly standard, but... when someone calls me crazy for wanting a storm, I don't really picture downed trees and power lines as something articulating that label.

I would be crazy for wanting a Category 4 or 5, but... a few snapped trees and power lines? Nah.

Like I said, maybe I'm just spoiled, but... yeah. :P


Like I said be careful. If a tree can reach your house don't ride one out there. Rita laid em down by the millions. But I'll quit preaching at ya about it. :)
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1254. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
00Z GFS HR 63 WED AUG 14

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52096
Quoting 1247. JrWeathermanFL:
Just getting in and the NHC is confusing...
Marks down a 20% chance on a spot but doesn't color it..
They must have lost the yellow crayon. Of course the 20 was for 5 days but the "Near 0% chance" would've still been colored.

They only color it for the first 48 hrs only.. that 20 is in the next 5 days
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Quoting 1232. GeoffreyWPB:


No...that is one of Gro's usual henways.


Are you going to wait for it?
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I don't know about the damage Utor is generating in the Pacific but I do know we had our second 4"+ rainfall in less than a week here in central VA. I've been here for 30+ years and I've never seen it rain like this here. Crazy storms with phenomenal amounts of water in them.
These afternoon thunderstorms rain like they are part of a tropical system.
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Quoting 1245. JLPR2:


Circulation is holding together pretty well considering it has been basically convection-less for more than a day.


Is it trying to organize?
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Quoting 1211. Grothar:
The wave over central Africa growing by the day. Reminds me of Mary Alice.

That is such a fat wave looks to be the same size as tip :P
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Quoting 1224. seer2012:
Link

Another Philipines weather report

Still has sustained 140 kph winds, gust to 170 kph and this storm is already in the western mountains! Incredibly powerful storm!
Member Since: July 30, 2012 Posts: 4 Comments: 614
Just getting in and the NHC is confusing...
Marks down a 20% chance on a spot but doesn't color it..
They must have lost the yellow crayon. Of course the 20 was for 5 days but the "Near 0% chance" would've still been colored.
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Quoting 1239. SuperStorm093:
Not saying that one won't be a big player, but the last 3 that came off the coast everyone said the same thing. Saying this is the start of the CV season.


One reason it seems that way to you is because everyone has this ridiculous habit of calling every thunderstorm complex that rolls of Africa a tropical wave. This is meteorologically incorrect; a tropical wave is defined as an anomalous cyclonic wind shift in the lower-tropospheric wind flow, typically extending upward to about 650 mb.

Thunderstorms can and do accompany tropical waves, particularly near the coast when they still possess residual convection from the Sahel, but a thunderstorm doesn't make a tropical wave.
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1245. JLPR2
Quoting 1242. mitchelace5:


Definitely seeing some rotation there.


Circulation is holding together pretty well considering it has been basically convection-less for more than a day.
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Quoting 1234. KoritheMan:


Where?

Right there.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30237
Quoting 1240. mitchelace5:


Do you know when it will emerge off Africa?


In 3 days.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 13250
Quoting 1237. JLPR2:
Here we go, fresh OSCAT pass of the TW in the E-Atl.



Definitely seeing some rotation there.
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Quoting 1225. AtHomeInTX:


Oh trees are destructive. Just stay away from both. :P


Destructive yes, but hardly calamitous. I dunno, maybe I'm spoiled because we get severe windstorms so often down here that the kind of winds bassis was describing seem fairly standard, but... when someone calls me crazy for wanting a storm, I don't really picture downed trees and power lines as something articulating that label.

I would be crazy for wanting a Category 4 or 5, but... a few snapped trees and power lines? Nah.

Like I said, maybe I'm just spoiled, but... yeah. :P
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Quoting 1235. Tropicsweatherpr:


Hi Gro. This one will be a big player down the road.


Do you know when it will emerge off Africa?
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Not saying that one won't be a big player, but the last 3 that came off the coast everyone said the same thing. Saying this is the start of the CV season.
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Quoting 1205. MississippiWx:


You know you're my fav. ;-) But shhhh. Don't tell Cody.


Speaking of, I found a vid of the three I mentioned practicing their storm-casting spell. I put it on astro's blog. I believe that's Cody making an appearance at the end. Could be Kori though. Y'all know each other better so you'll need to tell me ;)
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1237. JLPR2
Here we go, fresh OSCAT pass of the TW in the E-Atl.

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If this wave does form into a tropical system, are there conditions that would keep it away from the Al/Ms area?

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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.