Typhoon Utor Pounds Phiippines, Heads for China

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:51 PM GMT on August 12, 2013

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Typhoon Utor powered ashore on the northern Philippine Island of Luzon on Monday near 3 am local time (3 pm EDT Sunday) as a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds. Damage was heavy in Casiguran (population 24,000) near where the typhoon made landfall, with 80% of the infrastructure of the town reportedly destroyed, and all roads into the city blocked. Utor is being blamed for two deaths so far, and 44 fishermen are reported as missing.


Figure 1. MODIS satellite image of Typhoon Utor taken at approximately 02:30 UTC on Monday, August 12. At the time, Utor was a Category 2 storm with 100 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Passage over Luzon disrupted the inner core of Utor, reducing the storm to Category 2 strength with winds of 100 mph. Satellite imagery shows that the typhoon is re-organizing, and a new eyewall is forming. 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. These favorable conditions for intensification will last until the typhoon gets midway between the Philippines and China, where wind shear will rise to the moderate range and ocean waters will cool to 29°C with a much lower heat content. I expect Utor will intensify into a Category 3 storm today, and make landfall in China as a Category 2 or 3 storm about 200 hundred miles southwest of Hong Kong about 06 UTC on Wednesday. Utor is a very wet storm, and will likely bring a large swath of 8+ inches of rain across Southeast China on Wednesday. These rains will cause dangerous flash flooding and mudslides.

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. Utor reached super typhoon status with 150 mph winds on Sunday, making 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.


Video 1. News video of the damage from Typhoon Utor in Casiguran in the Philippines. Utor is being called Typhoon Labuyo locally in the Philippines. Thanks to wunderground member AussieStorm for posting this in my blog comments.

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)

Activity possible late this week in the Gulf of Mexico
A tropical wave in the Central to Eastern Caribbean is kicking up disorganized heavy thunderstorms as it heads westwards. Wind shear is a very high 40 knots over the region, and the wave is not a threat to develop for the next two days. However, once the wave reaches the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, some of the models are suggesting that the wave will find a region with lower wind shear, and a strong tropical disturbance capable of becoming a tropical storm could form near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula or farther north in the Gulf of Mexico. If it penetrates far enough into the northern Gulf of Mexico, the tropical wave could interact with a stalled cold front expected to push off the Southeast U.S. coast late this week. This interaction could produce a hybrid low pressure system that might be partially tropical, and capable of bringing heavy rains to the Southeast U.S. on Saturday and Sunday. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the system a 20% of developing by Saturday, and a 0% chance of developing by Wednesday.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting 728. washingtonian115:
I'm going with the best/more realistic case scenario.
I think taking the averages of the GFS, FIM, and CMC will give you your storm. The FIM is sandwiched in between which shows a moderate Tropical Storm. I know it is not wise to dismiss the other models, but both the Euro and NAM are initializing the Columbian Heat Low which I kind of find puzzling.
Member Since: June 30, 2013 Posts: 9 Comments: 6660
Apart from the Caribbean,let's not forget that we have a big wave in Eastern Atlantic with a circulation.

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While everyone pays attention to the Caribbean Sea disturbance, there is a large tropical low developing popcorn convection in the dry sal air. It is moistening fast.
Member Since: October 21, 2008 Posts: 243 Comments: 3564
Even though it's early, Ida could be a good analog in terms of track (maybe without the Central America landfall.) In terms of strength...there was talk about the possibility of RI so I don't know what's possible there.
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There will be no shear for this storm by tonight it is forming near 10 n and 80 w!! This is the main area and this will undergo Rapid bombogensis in 48 hrs.
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Quoting 637. Sfloridacat5:
The saving grace is the expected speed of the system. It doesn't spend all that much time in the Western Caribbean or the GOM.
If it were to stall or really slowed down in the Western Caribbean it would explode with development.

No it couldn't in marginal upper level conditions.
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Quoting 724. CybrTeddy:
Washington, when you mean "all" of the models I think you just mean the GFS. Somehow I doubt it goes that far east. Can't wait for the NHC to tag this as an invest once we get a concrete area of circulation.
If shear isn't a big issue and it misses the Yucatan completely then perhaps a strong tropical storm or minimal hurricane (74-80mph)
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Quoting 654. Sfloridacat5:
NAM has been forecasting development in the southern Caribbean for at least 5-7 days.
Everyone seems to cut it down, but I think it was called a good model when something is in its zone by someone who knows. They wouldn't have it on the internet if it was of no use would they?
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Quoting 717. StormTrackerScott:


It's possible or we could have a Charley on our hands. Hurricane Charley went from 90mph to 145mph in just a matter of hours off the SW FL Coast.This demands attention come this weekend as turn to the NE of whatever this is seems likely now just as I have been saying since early last week.
This system will not be like Charley. Charley was a tropical depression 115 mile sse of Barbados, and the became Charley while over the Eastern Caribbean..Are rare event.
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Quoting 722. HurricaneHunterJoe:


I bow before the master. Im wanting to snatch that pebble.


LOL
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Quoting 724. CybrTeddy:
Washington, when you mean "all" of the models I think you just mean the GFS. Somehow I doubt it goes that far east. Can't wait for the NHC to tag this as an invest once we get a concrete area of circulation.


still might be a mess for about 24-36 hours, upper level conditions really improve in about 48 hours.
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Quoting 717. StormTrackerScott:


It's possible or we could have a Charley on our hands. Hurricane Charley went from 90mph to 145mph in just a matter of hours off the SW FL Coast.This demands attention come this weekend as turn to the NE of whatever this is seems likely now just as I have been saying since early last week.
I'm going with the best/more realistic case scenario.
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The big picture.
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Quoting 712. Tropicsweatherpr:


Is there an ASCAT pass to see how it looks?


It's clearly seen on visible satellite imagery that it's elongated from west to east, but it's a closed surface circulation.
Member Since: October 21, 2008 Posts: 243 Comments: 3564
I see our system has a 10% chance now. Starting to draw some moisture from the monsoonal trough allowing some convection to form. The ULL is still hitting it with 30 kts out of the west will keep it in check till it reaches 80W. After that thing become interesting as the second another ULL comes in from the east may ventilate our system along with some high raw TCHP levels I would not leave out a strong TS or hurricane but it will have to consolidate and develop south of the Caymans to take full advantage. Interesting week ahead.

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Washington, when you mean "all" of the models I think you just mean the GFS. Somehow I doubt it goes that far east. Can't wait for the NHC to tag this as an invest once we get a concrete area of circulation.
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For all those thinking this will be a BIG storm it wont, most likely a minimal to moderate TS with heavy rains which is bad. But not a big devastating storm some here are thinking about. Wont surpass 40-45 mph.
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Quoting 650. Grothar:


If you go back to the blog earlier this morning before doc's new blog and last night. I pinpointed the exact spot of development and the possible track. And for more than 10 days I said to look for possible development around the 13th in the Caribbean which would move North.

:):)


I bow before the master. Im wanting to snatch that pebble.
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Link

Some bouys to keep tabs on, watch for a drop in pressure.
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Wind shear remains in the moderate range for e central Atlantic low, but will move into an area of decreasing wind shear and will allow the circulation to tighten up into a more consolidated low pressure system. This system could become Erin before our caribbean disturbance does.
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What is wrong with the forecast discussions for Texas? They haven't been updated since yesterday...

Link
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Quoting 701. washingtonian115:
All the models show a sheared system with the rain and winds on the eastern side.Expect a Andrea like system.


It's possible or we could have a Charley on our hands. Hurricane Charley went from 90mph to 145mph in just a matter of hours off the SW FL Coast.This demands attention come this weekend as turn to the NE of whatever this is seems likely now just as I have been saying since early last week.
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Already strong 35kt east winds, lets see if something can close more west.
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Quoting 698. kmanislander:


Shear has already started to relax and should continue to do so as the ULL over the Yucatan channel retrogrades. Conditons could be much improved in the Central Caribbean in 24 to 36 hours.


Things will slowly improve over the central Caribbean but not significantly until beyond the 48 hour mark. A tight upper level shear axis lies just south of Greater Antilles and will take time to break down if that occurs. Somethings to look for within the next 48 hours is increased 850mb vorticity with the wave south of Hispaniola as it moves westward and slow coalescence of what is now disorganized convection.
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@687:
I'm aware that Texas really needs this stom. And I wasn't rooting for one to hit FL. I'd rather it pull a Dolly but be a little weaker and farther north.
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Quoting 693. TheDawnAwakening:


The central Atlantic surface low is large and closed, but elongated.


Is there an ASCAT pass to see how it looks?
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Am I the only one who thinks that ragged mess of clouds the NHC has given a 48 hour 10% chance is about as likely as ET paying a visit?
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Flash Flood Watch
Statement as of 4:17 PM EDT on August 12, 2013


... Flash Flood Watch in effect through Tuesday evening...

The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has issued a

* Flash Flood Watch for portions of North Carolina... southwest
Virginia and southeast West Virginia...

* Through Tuesday evening

* saturated ground... combined with several periods of showers and
thunderstorms will increase the threat of flash flooding.
Rainfall rates above 3 inches per hour are likely.
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Quoting 671. GTstormChaserCaleb:
I think that is just the typical area of disturbed weather enhanced by the Columbian Heat Low that will likely move into the EPAC and not be a threat to develop at least not on our end, maybe in the EPAC. The area we should be focusing on is the weak wave moving through the Central Caribbean just south of Hispaniola that in combination of the monsoon trough will be the spark for cyclogenesis.


Correct. I haven't commented on the area of disturbed weather associated in the Caribbean yet, but I don't believe that's the initial system. The initial system itself is apart of the wave axis moving through the Caribbean. High shear will hamper development until we reach the western Caribbean, where there's loads of "mojo" to help it organize. Two things can happen for this to become more than a 45kt Tropical Storm.
  • The system will have to become organized enough to either become a tropical depression or gain a closed low-level circulation before reaching land. If this happens before a Yucatan strike, we could see as much as a 60kt tropical storm develop in the Gulf of Mexico. This is supported by the FIM, NAVGEM, HWRF, and the CMC. Recall Cindy and Dolly in 2005 and 2008, respectively. 

  • The system develops far enough north that it either clips the Yucatan or misses it entirely. This isn't shown on many of the models, but considering how difficult it is to track the exact track of a tropical cyclone it's not out of the realm of possibility this may happen. If this were to occur, then the odds favor a stronger tropical cyclone as instead of having only 48 hours to organize, it will have 72 to become a stronger system.

The two combined is the absolute worst case scenario.
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Still a low TCFP, may increase over the next 24-48 hours.
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Here's the front coming down for the coast

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Quoting 698. kmanislander:


Shear has already started to relax and should continue to do so as the ULL over the Yucatan channel retrogrades. Conditons could be much improved in the Central Caribbean in 24 to 36 hours.
Which is unsettling. To put it plain.
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"I'm not sure how people get eaten by sharks here in Florida"..... "I mean How do you not hear the music"????
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The central Atlantic low could develop within the next few days. I put chances of development at 30% in two days and 40% in five days.
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It is possible the current GFS is initializing the system too far west. I would look closer to the east-central Caribbean for initial development



120 hours:



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Quoting 675. Sfloridacat5:


lol and the truth. What is it? A blind squirrel eventually finds a nut.
If a storm formed every time the NAM predicted one, Nicaragua would be non existent, or underwater...:)
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All the models show a sheared system with the rain and winds on the eastern side.Expect a Andrea like system.
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The sw low will remain the main low!!
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Quoting 686. Drakoen:


Exactly.


Shear has already started to relax and should continue to do so as the ULL over the Yucatan channel retrogrades. Conditons could be much improved in the Central Caribbean in 24 to 36 hours.
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Quoting 661. calkevin77:


I hear you. I've reset any expectations for measurable precip from the hurricane season. Like I said I'm looking for relief during the winter via the same type of storms that took CA out of their drought in the early 90s. Funny how that used to be more of the drier time of the year for TX and the surrounding areas. Jan/Feb 2012 come to mind on the 5-10 inches of rain we got.


I'd take some of those as well. LA had a pathetic wet season this past winter, so we could definitely stand to catch up.
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Meanwhile FIM-8 clips NOLA and heads for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.



It also shows the Tropical Wave being the area of interest for development and not the low further south in the SW Caribbean.

Link
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Quoting 686. Drakoen:


Exactly.

So why is Ecmwf focus on sw low!!
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Quoting 677. CybrTeddy:


The ECMWF would probably be closer to the GFS in terms of intensity if it wasn't persistent with shoving it into Mexico. I think it will be weak, 45kts at the absolute most, but if a surface low becomes established before reaching the GOMEX under that high TCHP then we might have something stronger.


The stronger it gets in the Gulf it might tap some of that drier cooler air moving down from the north. so this will be an interesting feature to watch kinda reminds me of an early October set up.

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Quoting 686. Drakoen:


Exactly.


The central Atlantic surface low is large and closed, but elongated.
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Quoting 671. GTstormChaserCaleb:
I think that is just the typical area of disturbed weather enhanced by the Columbian Heat Low that will likely move into the EPAC and not be a threat to develop at least not on our end, maybe in the EPAC. The area we should be focusing on is the weak wave moving through the Central Caribbean just south of Hispaniola that in combination of the monsoon trough will be the spark for cyclogenesis.
The heat low has been kicking spins into the East PAC for a Month or more. Now it wants to put them in the Caribbean.. A heat low spitting hurricane seedlings into some of the warmest water on Earth..Should help knock out a few names on this years list.
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690. IKE
Think I see a spin south of Haiti moving slightly north of west.
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Giant surface circulation over the central Atlantic is moving westward towards e Lesser Antilles is entering a better moisture axis as convection is beginning to develop all around the circulation. It is a large low.
Member Since: October 21, 2008 Posts: 243 Comments: 3564

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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.