Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:07 PM GMT on October 30, 2006
Super Typhoon Cimaron made landfall on the northern Philippine island of Luzon this weekend as a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of at least 160 mph. Cimaron could have been even stronger--NOAA's satellite team estimated Cimaron had 180 mph sustained winds with a pressure of 879 mb, but the University of Wisconsin CIMSS group put Cimaron's peak intensity at 160 mph, with a central pressure of 903 mb. Cimaron had one of the most remarkable intensification spurts on record--it went from a minimal tropical storm with 40 mph winds to a Category 5 storm with 160-180 mph winds in just 48 hours. The pressure dropped an estimated 118 mb in that time period! Like Hurricane Wilma of 2005, Cimaron had a very tight inner core with a small eye, which is typical of storms that perform freakish feats of rapid intensification. Cimaron was the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in eight years.
Figure 1.A zoomed-in shot of Cimaron's eye taken by NASA's AQUA satellite shortly before the storm made landfall in the Philippines.
Damage reports are just beginning to come in from the Philippines, and early reports put the death toll at 12 with over 20 injured. Most of the deaths have come from flooding and falling trees. Northern Luzon Island is very mountainous and heavily logged, so flash flooding presents a serious danger. Cimaron moved quickly enough that only about eight inches of rain fell across the island (Figure 2), so I am hopeful that the death toll will not increase much further. The coast is not heavily populated where Cimaron came ashore, so significant death or damage there is not expected. About 5,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas before Cimaron came ashore.
Figure 2.Rainfall estimates from NOAA for Cimaron.
Cimaron follows on the heels of devastating Typhoon Xangsane which hit Luzon on September 27 as a Category 4 storm. Xangsane killed 218 in the Philippines, did over $100 million in damage, and left thousands homeless. All 43 million residents of Luzon lost power from that typhoon. Xangsane went on to deliver a serious blow to Vietnam as a Category 2 typhoon, killing 70. Cimaron is expected to hit Vietnam Thursday night in the same region Xangsane did. However, Cimaron is expected to be much weaker at this second landfall--perhaps just a tropical storm.
Figure 3.Super Typhoon Cimaron a few hours before landfall in the Philippines. Cimaron may have had sustained winds as high as 180 mph at landfall! Image credit: NOAA.
The tropical wave (93L) moving through the Caribbean south of Jamaica has grown very disorganized, and development of this system is not expected. None of the computer models are forecasting tropical development in the Atlantic the remainder of this week, but unsettled weather is expected to remain in the western Caribbean.
A weak tropical disturbance near 10N 175W, about 1300 miles southwest of Hawaii, has the potential for some slow development this week as it moves towards Hawaii. Several of the computers models are predicting that this could develop into a weak tropical storm and affect Hawaii by Friday or Saturday. The disturbance is under about 15 knots of wind shear, and had top winds of about 25 mph in last night's QuikSCAT satellite pass.
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