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 , 2:31 PM GMT on October 31, 2006
Typhoon Cimaron is slowly intensifying over the South China Sea as it heads towards an expected landfall Friday in China. Cimaron made landfall on the northern Philippine island of Luzon Sunday as a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 160-180 mph. Cimaron killed at least 15, left 2500 homeless, and destroyed about 8% of the island's rice and corn crop. However, disaster officials called the destruction wrought by Cimaron as "minimal" compared to the destruction 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 tens of thousands homeless. Xangsane went on to deliver a serious blow to Vietnam as a Category 2 typhoon, killing 70. Cimaron is expected to weaken due to wind shear and entrainment of dry air off the coast of China as it approaches land later this week.
Figure 1. Super Typhoon Cimaron at 0540 GMT Oct 29 2006, in an image taken by the NASA Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite's precipitation radar instrument. This instrument is able to see details as small as 6km across, and was the only microwave sensor that saw these incredibly tightly packed concentric eyewalls separated by only a few kilometers. 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.
Unsettled weather continues in the Western Caribbean, and we will have to keep an eye on this region for tropical development. QuikSCAT satellite-measured winds were in the 20-30 mph range southwest of Jamaica at 6:03am EST this morning, but there was no evidence of a surface circulation. Wind shear is a low 10 knots over the region, and is expected to remain low over the next several days. No computer models are calling for tropical storm formation in the Atlantic this week, and I am not expecting anything to form in the Atlantic the rest of the year.
Figure 2. Preliminary models tracks for the Western Caribbean disturbance.
The weak tropical disturbance near 10N 175W, about 1500 miles southwest of Hawaii, has dissipated and is no longer a threat.
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