Haiyan is Dead, Better Weather Ahead for the Philippines; 'We Can Stop This Madness'

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:44 PM GMT on November 12, 2013

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Super Typhoon Haiyan is gone, but not before adding China to its list of ravaged nations in Asia. Haiyan made landfall on the northern Vietnam coast near the Chinese border as a Category 1 storm with 75 mph winds on Sunday, and spread torrential rains into southern China of up to 38 centimeters (15 inches) over some parts of Guangxi province, which caused up to $700 million in damage to agricultural, forestry, poultry and fishing industries there, said China National Radio. Seven people were killed in China on hard-hit Hainan Island, with three others missing. At least 13 people died and 81 were injured in Vietnam from the storm, said the Voice of Vietnam, the country's national radio broadcaster. Huge 26-foot waves from Haiyan swept 16 people out to sea in Taiwan on Sunday, killing 8 of them, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. The devastation wrought by Haiyan in the Philippines is among the most severe punishments ever inflicted by a tropical cyclone in modern history. With an official death toll of 1,774, Haiyan already ranks as the 3rd deadliest typhoon in Philippine history. The deadliest typhoon in Philippine history was Typhoon Thelma of 1991, which killed between 5101 - 8000 people, reports wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt in his latest post on Philippines typhoon history.


Figure 1. Col John Sanchez, Central Command, AFP took these photos from a PAF Nomad aircracft over Guiuan, E. Samar, on November 10, 2013: "Guiuan bore the brunt of Super Typhoon Yolanda at its first landfall Friday. One hundred percent of the structures either had their roofs blown away or sustained major damage. Nearly all coconut trees fell. We saw people in the streets, seemingly dazed. Trucks and cars were left in the streets where they were stopped in their tracks as Yolanda struck. We were probably the first outsiders to fly over the area since Friday and obviously, no relief goods have arrived there yet. It was almost lunchtime but there was no smoke from cooking fires. The 2.4 km runway is clear of debris and could still be used by C130 aircraft." Image credit: Col John Sanchez , Central Command, AFP.

Tropical disturbance 90W leaving the Philippines; better weather ahead
A tropical disturbance that passed over the Philippines Island of Mindanao (Invest 90W), brought heavy rains of 82 mm (3.2 inches) of rain in the 24 hours ending 8am Philippines time Tuesday (7pm Monday EST) to Davao City on Mindanao. Heavy rains fell over the disaster area in the Central Philippines, as well, hampering relief efforts. However, the storm is now leaving the islands, and water vapor satellite loops show a large area of dry air to the east of the Philippines. This will bring several days of dryer weather, with only scattered afternoon thunderstorms, to the disaster zone. The GFS model is not predicting any new tropical cyclones forming in the Western Pacific over the coming seven days. The Japan Meteorological Agency is still classifying 90W as a tropical depression, but the Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has downgraded the depression (which they called Zoraida) to a remnant low, as of 3:30pm their time (2:30am EST.) The disturbance still has a high chance of development into a tropical depression, according to Tuesday's 06 UTC Western Pacific Tropical Weather Discussion by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).

Haiyan's place in history
Haiyan hit Guiuan, on the Philippine island of Samar, at 4:40 am local time November 8, 2013 (20:40 UTC November 7.) Three hours before landfall, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) assessed Haiyan’s sustained winds at 195 mph, gusting to 235 mph, making it the 4th strongest tropical cyclone in world history. Satellite loops show that Haiyan weakened only slightly, if at all, in the two hours after JTWC’s advisory, so the super typhoon likely made landfall with winds near 195 mph. The next JTWC intensity estimate, for 00Z UTC November 8, about three hours after landfall, put the top winds at 185 mph. Averaging together these estimates gives a strength of 190 mph an hour after landfall. Thus, Haiyan had winds of 190 - 195 mph at landfall, making it the strongest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall in world history. The previous record was held by the Atlantic's Hurricane Camille of 1969, which made landfall in Mississippi with 190 mph winds.

With Angela Fritz' help, I've put together a list of most intense world tropical cyclones at landfall, using the advisories taken from the National Hurricane Center in the Atlantic and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in the rest of the world's oceans. Both agencies use 1-minute averaging times for their advisories, as opposed to the 10-minute averaging time used to report wind speeds by most international weather agencies and at most international airports. The list is unofficial and may have omissions; email me at jmasters@wunderground.com if you have suggestions for improvement:



"We can stop this madness"
At the annual United Nations talks on developing a global climate treaty, currently underway in Warsaw, Poland, Naderev Saño, the chief representative of the Philippines at the conference, said on Monday: “What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness; the climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness right here in Warsaw.” Saño promised to undergo a hunger strike in solidarity with the storm victims until “a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

I've blogged extensively about the links between hurricanes, typhoons, and climate change, most recently in my August 2013 post, Hurricanes and Climate Change: Huge Dangers, Huge Unknowns. Since hurricanes are heat engines that take heat energy from the oceans and convert it to the energy of their winds, rising ocean temperatures due to global warming should make the strongest storms stronger, though the poor quality and relatively short length of the global database of hurricanes and typhoons make it difficult to tell if this has already begun to occur. Hurricane scientists expect to see a 2% - 11% increase in the intensity of hurricanes and typhoons (aka tropical cyclones) by 2100. Later this week, I'll have a more detailed look at the conditions that helped fuel the incredible strength of Super Typhoon Haiyan, and discuss possible linkages to climate change.


Video 1. After Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines, climate change representative Yeb Sano pleaded with the world to take immediate, drastic action to reduce climate change-causing carbon dioxide emissions in an emotional speech at the UN's climate meeting in Warsaw, Poland.

The Philippine Red Cross is appealing for donations.

Portlight disaster relief charity is reaching out to disability organizations in the Philippines to provide durable medical equipment. and welcomes donations.

Jeff Masters

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644. ARiot
8:21 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
I know and am related to many people who have the same views as those expressed in post 603.

It's a tragedy no matter how you slice it huh?

Either science is correct, and we're on the tipping point of some bad climate forcing.

Or

The supernatural forces are coming back to save their followers and send the rest of us to hell.

Dang.

I was just feeling good about things in general.

What a bummer.

I'm off to read about the new bacertia colony discovery that throws down proof of billion year old life on Earth. Those dudes had it figured out man. That bacteria should be running this joint, not us. :-)
Member Since: June 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 366
643. cRRKampen
7:14 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 642. WalkingInTheSun:Hey, we are talking DATA, here -- serious, pure data, and you cannot argue with science, right?
:-)


EDIT:
The opinions of this poster are not necessarilly the opinions of this station -- er, blog, and are not aimed or intended to poke fun at anyone in particular, especially not Doc Masters. (You have a great site, Doc. Just spoofing with others, here, nothing at you. lol.)

Totally spoofed, :D
Member Since: April 3, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 190
642. WalkingInTheSun
6:34 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Hmm, got a peek at that new post by the Doc.
Thanks Doc Masters!
Let's see, here - nice data.
Yep.
Uhum.
Yeah.
-- Eureka!

Okay, people, here we go.
Notice how Haiyan was a perfectly normal storm & not too big as long as it kept going West and didn't head NW. We might need to get climate & weather data on this to see how many really big storms in the W-Pac were on a NW trajectory as compared to how many only kept going West. I might speculate there could be something to this. If ALL the truly big storms happened only after they began heading to the NW, then we will have to have a global conference to decide what the world can do to prevent all W-Pac storms from straying from a due-West trajectory. Hey, we are talking DATA, here -- serious, pure data, and you cannot argue with science, right?
:-)


EDIT:
The opinions of this poster are not necessarilly the opinions of this station -- er, blog, and are not aimed or intended to poke fun at anyone in particular, especially not Doc Masters. (You have a great site, Doc. Just spoofing with others, here, nothing at you. lol.)
Member Since: June 7, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1299
641. LargoFl
6:27 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Januuary 19th 1977 it snowed in Miami...It hasnt snowed there since, could This be the year in which it does again?
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42064
640. WalkingInTheSun
6:26 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 592. hydrus:
With every new run of the GFS, the troughs become larger and further south. The last trough at 240 has some serious dynamics if it were to materialize.


I don't want to sound weird or anything (lol), but being down south, I have a photo-request for those facing more severe cold weather.
Can someone up north post me a pic of a doc taking a whiz on a fire-hydrant or tree in extreme cold weather...and the stream instantly turning into a yellow icicle that sort of "leashes" the doggie to the tree or hydrant by his unmentionables?

No, nothing graphic, just the sad look on his face showing it is real. I just never have seen such a pic, so I have no proof that it really gets that cold up north. Hey, it might all be talk & a conspiracy to keep the population down & to prevent overcrowding, big sell-out runs on the best gadgets for Christmas, or something.
Member Since: June 7, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1299
639. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
6:26 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
638. LargoFl
6:22 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42064
637. CaribBoy
6:22 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Rainfall deficit for OCTOBER is 40%...

2013's total will most likely be 2 TIMES LOWER than what 2010 or 2011 brought. GREAT PERFORMANCE!
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6455
636. LargoFl
6:18 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42064
635. WalkingInTheSun
6:16 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 626. MrMixon:


The GFS predicts weather, not climate. But I bet you knew that.


C'mon, now, I was talking about the data, and we all know that snow, ice, etc. are counted as data in the GW discussions, or why else would people be scratching their heads over all the ice at the S-Pole when Santa doesn't even live there?

So, if the snow goes south, maybe - just maybe, we should all start blaming Santa for relocating his magical fairyland - er, elf kingdom? - down south in the wake of the nuclear disaster in Japan? Hey, the fallout is drifting now, right? Would YOU want all the kids to possibly get nuclear-radiation-contaminated toys for Christmas? Thought not! So, we will all have to get used to Santa flying in from down below for awhile.

Edit
(Psst -- that wasn't too technical for everyone, was it?) :-))
Ho, ho, hoooo!
Member Since: June 7, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1299
634. cRRKampen
6:15 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 631. WalkingInTheSun:


So,...if we got a tropical cyclone in from the south by then, it would make giant snowballs & hailstones and be officially designated a "superstorm" like Cat. 1 Sandy? Hmm. We'd have to blame it on global warm-colding or something like that.

The Philippines? ("We can stop this madness")
Ah, well, they have been getting bashed by many storms every year, for many years. It is part of their normal weather. The fact that one is a bit larger this year is no big thing, or have you not seen the huge size on W-Pac typhoons over the years compared to what we have been getting here in the states, often times?

Btw, I don't suppose those HONEST "weather-criers" will admit to the big lack of data on the W-Pac storms in past years compared to those in the Americas & Atlantic, will they? -- Figures. Uhm, what about how many weather recon plane-flights went dashing out over all the many typhoons that hurtled in at the numerous poverty-stricken nations of SE Asia during all the past years, also? -- Oh, yeah,...probably not, ...while we got used to having such luxuries loaded with immense weather-data in comparison. Happy end of hurricane season, people!

Maybe links can be posted for legit ways to help the poor & suffering in the wake of the recent storm in SE Asia if anyone knows of some good sites where the $$ get spent properly & such.

No worries, he just needs one of those record breaking storms. Used to it every year anyway. Or three times a year, like the Philippines.

/cRR
Member Since: April 3, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 190
633. hydrus
6:14 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 625. Torito:


.10%.
lol.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22595
632. hydrus
6:13 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 628. ncstorm:


is this severe weather or winter weather implications?
Both. It is not uncommon to have severe weather followed by winter weather conditions. Sadly, many times after tornadoes in the mid west they have to deal with winter weather while picking up the shattered pieces of there homes. If the return flow can establish itself, there will be severe weather events. The models are already hinting at severe weather next week.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22595
631. WalkingInTheSun
6:10 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 600. SFLWeatherman:
How do you like it?!:)


So,...if we got a tropical cyclone in from the south by then, it would make giant snowballs & hailstones and be officially designated a "superstorm" like Cat. 1 Sandy? Hmm. We'd have to blame it on global warm-colding or something like that.

The Philippines? ("We can stop this madness")
Ah, well, they have been getting bashed by many storms every year, for many years. It is part of their normal weather. The fact that one is a bit larger this year is no big thing, or have you not seen the huge size on W-Pac typhoons over the years compared to what we have been getting here in the states, often times?

Btw, I don't suppose those HONEST "weather-criers" will admit to the big lack of data on the W-Pac storms in past years compared to those in the Americas & Atlantic, will they? -- Figures. Uhm, what about how many weather recon plane-flights went dashing out over all the many typhoons that hurtled in at the numerous poverty-stricken nations of SE Asia during all the past years, also? -- Oh, yeah,...probably not, ...while we got used to having such luxuries loaded with immense weather-data in comparison. Happy end of hurricane season, people!

Maybe links can be posted for legit ways to help the poor & suffering in the wake of the recent storm in SE Asia if anyone knows of some good sites where the $$ get spent properly & such.
Member Since: June 7, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1299
630. washingtonian115
6:07 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 628. ncstorm:


is this severe weather or winter weather implications?
/both.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17806
629. cRRKampen
6:05 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 619. Torito:


Link

Smell something, too? -
Member Since: April 3, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 190
628. ncstorm
6:02 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 592. hydrus:
With every new run of the GFS, the troughs become larger and further south. The last trough at 240 has some serious dynamics if it were to materialize.


is this severe weather or winter weather implications?
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16223
627. llpj04
6:01 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 623. Patrap:


Upload it here in wunderphotos and you might just get a "Approver's Choice", or send it to Astronomy today as well.
I did that and it got into VIP lol :)
Member Since: July 10, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 7478
626. MrMixon
6:00 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 620. WalkingInTheSun:


What, are you a climate-data deniar?
Are you denying science?? :-))


The GFS predicts weather, not climate. But I bet you knew that.
Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
625. Torito
6:00 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 621. hydrus:
10%


.10%.
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
624. whatsup99037
5:58 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Anybody that uses coconut oil may want to stock up because the word is it is going up a bunch due to the disaster in the Philippines.
Member Since: March 29, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 61
623. Patrap
5:58 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 618. llpj04:

Thanks for your interest. Do you know of a site to send the photo to for further review by anyone that might be interested in seeing it?


Upload it here in wunderphotos and you might just get a "Approver's Choice", or send it to Astronomy today as well.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129818
622. Patrap
5:57 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
It's weird in here today.

Today?

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129818
621. hydrus
5:56 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 602. Torito:


For now, let's just say it has a >1% chance of forming in the next 5 days.
10%
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22595
620. WalkingInTheSun
5:56 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 616. MrMixon:
It's weird in here today.

Look, snow:


(Click to embiggen)

I'm not sure I believe the GFS on those 20" totals for Colorado...


What, are you a climate-data deniar?
Are you denying science?? :-))
Member Since: June 7, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1299
619. Torito
5:56 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 617. cRRKampen:

Dumb humans, I got four wings, order odonata and I don't remember for I just know. Now hide from this:



Btw all the volcanoes of the world manage to emit at most 3% of CO2 that those remembering humans of yours do.


Link
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
618. llpj04
5:55 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 595. Patrap:


While walking Nola Roux along Bayou St. John here in NOLA I saw the 2 Sun Dogs, but the Halo that you got, was much obscured by Jet Contrails here.

Was impressive though, esp with the Polaroid Sunglasses at the time.

Great capture of the images.

Thanks.

Thanks for your interest. Do you know of a site to send the photo to for further review by anyone that might be interested in seeing it?
Member Since: July 10, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 7478
617. cRRKampen
5:55 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 582. jpsb:

What we humans should remember is that the Earth is currently in an Ice Age. We have far more to fear from a short term cooling event than a little warming.

Dumb humans, I got four wings, order odonata and I don't remember for I just know. Now hide from this:



Btw all the volcanoes of the world manage to emit at most 3% of CO2 that those remembering humans of yours do.

Btw2, you are writing that GW is going to happen no matter what, and that we have to fear coolings at the same time.
Is CAGW-denial that severe an affliction that it puts the brain into a state generating antitheses wholesale?
Member Since: April 3, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 190
616. MrMixon
5:51 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
It's weird in here today.

Look, snow:


(Click to embiggen)

I'm not sure I believe the GFS on those 20" totals for Colorado...
Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
615. Torito
5:51 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 614. FunnelVortex:


lol, wheres that from?


Lol, its a user created gif. :)


Someone made it, it isn't off a movie or something. :)
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
614. FunnelVortex
5:49 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 610. Torito:





lol, wheres that from?
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2893
613. washingtonian115
5:48 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 610. Torito:



LMAO! and for that I'm heading off.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17806
612. ScottLincoln
5:46 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 582. jpsb:

People, Global Warming is going to happen no matter what we humans do. Every day the Sun gets a tiny bit more energetic.

[snip]

Let me go ahead and stop you there. I might suggest that you catch up on current events... like, say, the data on solar activity post-1950?
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3325
611. whatsup99037
5:44 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Post 609

Noted.
Member Since: March 29, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 61
610. Torito
5:44 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 608. FunnelVortex:
*reads post 603*

I know where this is going *hides*



Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
609. ScottLincoln
5:42 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 603. whatsup99037:
Post 584

I recently wrote an article for our church newspaper for our Christmas edition and it relates directly to your comments about the sun. Hopefully I am not out of place publishing it here and if it's deleted I will understand.

[snip}


In the future I might suggest summarizing, then linking to the rest. Both for the sake of not clogging the forum comment thread and for the sake of copyright/plagiarism concerns.

UPDATE: Yikes... that goes for a few previous posts, as well, not just the quoted one.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3325
608. FunnelVortex
5:41 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
*reads post 603*

I know where this is going *hides*
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2893
607. Torito
5:41 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 606. FunnelVortex:


If it does it will be extratropical.


Subtropical, It is attached to the end of a front, it appears.

Still, it will probably not form. :)
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
606. FunnelVortex
5:39 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 604. Torito:
GFS 147 hours. TS in the ATL. (Not like that will actually happen.)



If it does it will be extratropical.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2893
605. FunnelVortex
5:39 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
*chirp chirp chirp chirp*

Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2893
604. Torito
5:37 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
GFS 147 hours. TS in the ATL. (Not like that will actually happen.)

Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
602. Torito
5:33 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 593. hydrus:
The little ball of convection north of Panama....it could...if it doesnt move ashore...form.


For now, let's just say it has a >1% chance of forming in the next 5 days.
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
601. washingtonian115
5:33 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 597. hydrus:
Much better pattern this year for it to happen....The past two winters were more like spring. We had our but handed to us the two years before tho. Lots of wind damage. Lightening too.
CWG just put out their forecast..

In short, we favor yet another warm winter with below normal snowfall. However, all winters take on their own character. If we can deconstruct winter into a theme, the theme this winter will be incongruity between temperatures and snow.
Link
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17806
600. SFLWeatherman
5:33 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
How do you like it?!:)
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4984
599. georgevandenberghe
5:32 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 592. hydrus:
With every new run of the GFS, the troughs become larger and further south. The last trough at 240 has some serious dynamics if it were to materialize.


I guess my thanksgiving lettuce and Christmas Broccoli in DC is at risk:-)

(Last year broccoli overwintered and the last half of winter had normal temps including a 3 year return period arctic outbreak in late January)
Member Since: February 1, 2012 Posts: 19 Comments: 2187
598. SFLWeatherman
5:30 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
The cold front is now south of me!!:)
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4984
597. hydrus
5:30 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 594. washingtonian115:
Hydrus I'm hoping your forecast for the east this winter comes true.It's been a while since I've seen 6+ inches...Sure seems hard to come by these days.
Much better pattern this year for it to happen....The past two winters were more like spring. We had our but handed to us the two years before tho. Lots of wind damage. Lightening too.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22595
596. georgevandenberghe
5:28 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 584. Patrap:

The Weakest Solar Cycle in 100 Years
Scientists are struggling to explain the Sun's bizarre recent behavior. Is it a fluke, or a sign of a deeper trend?



The Sun is acting weird. It typically puts on a pageant of magnetic activity every 11 years for aurora watchers and sungazers alike, but this time it overslept. When it finally woke up (a year late), it gave the weakest performance in 100 years.

What's even weirder is that scientists, who aren't usually shy about tossing hypotheses about, are at a loss for a good explanation. Three scientists, David Hathaway (NASA / Marshall Space Flight Center), Giuliana de Toma (High Altitude Observatory), and Matthew Penn (National Solar Observatory) presented possible explanations at this month's meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Solar Physics Division, but their results sparked a lively debate rather than a scientific consensus.

A Weak and Weird Cycle

Sun's magnetic field
The Sun rotates faster at its equator, which stretches the magnetic field lines around the solar surface.

Addison Wesley

A well-behaved Sun flips its north and south magnetic poles every 11 years. A cycle starts when the field is weak and dipolar basically, a giant bar magnet. But the Sun's rotation is faster at its equator than at its poles, and this difference soon stretches the field lines like distended rubber bands around the solar surface. Frenetic activity ensues, with magnetic tangles producing sunspots, prominences, and sometimes flares and plasma explosions. All of that dies down when the Sun-wide magnetic field lines finally snap into simpler configurations, re-establishing the dipole field and beginning the next cycle.

The Sun has been doing all of that, just to a lesser degree. Not only is this the smallest cycle we've seen in the space age, it's the smallest cycle in 100 years, says Hathaway, who took part in the Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel back in 2007.

Sun's asymmetric poles
The current cycle isn't just weak. Starting in 2006, the Sun's poles became asymmetric, with the south pole lagging behind the north for the past 7 years. Asymmetric poles are common enough, but they usually synchronize within a year or so.
G. de Toma / USAF / NOAO

The panel members were split at the time on whether the next solar activity cycle would be strong or weak, but their middle-of-the-road estimate anticipated 90 sunspots as a peak value near August 2012. Instead, the peak sunspot number seems to be less than 70, and the maximum arrived later than expected. Cycle 24 should have peaked in 2012, 11 years after its last minimum in 2001, but the Sun overslept by a full year, waking up in 2013 instead.

And its waking has been asymmetric: the north pole has led the cycle since 2006, with the south pole lagging behind. It's not uncommon to see hemispheres going out of phase . . . Usually this [asymmetry] lasts a year or so and then the hemispheres synchronize, de Toma explains. We don't know why this is lasting for so long.

Explaining Weirdness

Sun cycle history

Cycle 24 is the weakest cycle in 100 years. This might be part of a centennial tapering of magnetic activity known as the Gleissberg cycle.

D. Hathaway / NASA / MSFC

It's possible that, weak and weird as it is, Cycle 24 is still part of the Sun's normal variation, even if it's one of the weakest cycles yet recorded.

In fact, both Hathaway and de Toma think the 11-year cycle might be part of a larger one. Historical records show weak cycles at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, so it could be that the solar cycle tapers every 100 years or so in what's known as the Gleissberg Cycle. It's not easy to establish the existence of a cycle that turns over on such a long timescale, and even Hathaway admitted, Certainly I don't understand how it works.

Doug Biesecker (NOAA), chair of the most recent prediction panel, says, I remain highly skeptical . . . [Even] if you believe there is a 100-year cycle, then that still doesn't tell us why. Just that it is.

Penn offered another, more catastrophic option: the sunspot cycle might die altogether. His team uses sunspot spectra to measure their magnetic fields, and his data show a clear trend: the magnetic field strength in sunspots is waning.

Sunspots' magnetic field

Penn's research shows that sunspots' magnetic field strength is declining over time. Sunspots can only form if the magnetic field is greater than around 1,500 Gauss, so if the trend continues, we could be headed for a time where no spots appear on the Sun's surface.

M. Penn

If this trend continues, there will be almost no spots in Cycle 25, and we might be going into another Maunder Minimum, Penn states. The first Maunder Minimum occurred during the second half of the 17th century. Almost no spots were seen on the Sun during this time, which coincided with Europe's Little Ice Age.

But Penn acknowledges that magnetic field measurements from other studies don't always see the same trend he sees. Some observations show that sunspots magnetic field strength varies with the solar cycle, and others (including de Toma's) show that sunspots magnetic fields aren't changing with time. De Toma was even able to reproduce Penn's results by excluding small sunspots, suggesting Penn's trend might result from the way his team selects the sunspots they measure.

Another word of caution came from Hathaway, who notes that the Maunder Minimum might have been a catastrophic event rather than a gradual trend. Many of my colleagues are poring over historical records to find out . . . what did lead up to the Maunder Minimum? he says. New observations suggestion that the cycle before the Maunder Minimum wasn't particularly small.

Regardless of what's causing the Sun's strange behavior, Hathaway and Penn, who are both in the solar prediction business, anticipate that Cycle 25, expected to peak in 2024, will be the weakest yet.

Penn's prediction is based on the weakening magnetic field he sees within sunspots; Hathaway's are instead based on measurements of the Sun's polar field and the meridional flow, the flow of magnetic flux from the Sun's equator to the poles. A stronger flow would help strengthen weak fields, but meridional flows have been completely absent in Cycle 24 so far. We might have a long wait ahead of us to see if and when the Sun recovers.


Given our increasing dependence on power and electronics of all kinds, lessening solar activity is probably a fortuitous good thing. An intense flare directed towards us could cause failure of our power infrastructure with disastrous disruptive consequences.

Member Since: February 1, 2012 Posts: 19 Comments: 2187
595. Patrap
5:27 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 589. llpj04:
just thought I'd find out if anyone here has ever seen what I captured on veteran's day.
Along with a halo & 2 sundogs there was an arc that intersected the top of the halo (doesn't look quite like an upper tangent because it is not winging outwards after it touches the halo). It is not a circumzenithal. Might be a parry, because I noticed that the higher the halo is the closer the parry is to it (but I just didn't see images of the parry touching the halo).
Site I was given for more info.



While walking Nola Roux along Bayou St. John here in NOLA I saw the 2 Sun Dogs, but the Halo that you got, was much obscured by Jet Contrails here.

Was impressive though, esp with the Polaroid Sunglasses at the time.

Great capture of the images.

Thanks.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129818
594. washingtonian115
5:27 PM GMT on November 13, 2013
Quoting 592. hydrus:
With every new run of the GFS, the troughs become larger and further south. The last trough at 240 has some serious dynamics if it were to materialize.
Hydrus I'm hoping your forecast for the east this winter comes true.It's been a while since I've seen 6+ inches...Sure seems hard to come by these days.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17806

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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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