Philippines clean up after Utor

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:03 PM GMT on December 11, 2006

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The Philippine Islands continue to assess the damage from Typhoon Utor (called Seniang in the Philippines). Utor (the Marshallese word for a squall line) hit the eastern Samar province Saturday as a Category 1 typhoon on Saturday, then intensified to a Category 3 typhoon as it passed through the islands, striking Mindoro Island as a Category 3 storm before passing out into the South China Sea. Thankfully, Utor moved at a much quicker speed through the islands than devastating Super Typhoon Durian did at the end of November, and thus dropped only about half the amount of rain. The death toll from Utor is 6, with 19 missing. Most of the missing are fisherman that may yet be found. Utor did not trigger major mudslides and flash flooding like Durian did, and the storm is expected to die in the South China Sea and not create significant problems for any other nations. A list of the typhoons to hit the Philippines so far this year, and their strength at landfall:

Chanchu (May) Cat 2
Xangsane (Sept) Cat 4
Cimaron (Oct) Cat 5
Chebi (Nov) Cat 3
Durian (Nov) Cat 4
Utor (Dec) Cat 3

Utor was unusual in that it intensified significantly from a Category 1 storm with 75 mph winds to a Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds while it passed through the islands with much of its circulation over land. Normally, the friction created when a typhoon's winds pass over land will weaken the storm. In Utor's case, however, the inner core of the storm remained over warm (29 C) waters, and it may be that the funneling effect of the low-level wind flow through the spaces between the islands acted to accelerate the winds flowing into the eyewall. These faster winds near the core brought in more water vapor to fuel the storm and generated enhanced updrafts in the eyewall, allowing the typhoon to intensify despite the frictional drag of land on the rest of the storm. It is also possible that the relatively protected waters between the islands allowed the large waves kicked up by the storm to die down, reducing the amount of frictional drag on the winds and thus aiding intensification. A detailed computer simulation of the air-sea interaction of Utor is needed to figure out what happened, though.


Figure 1. Satellite image of Typhoon Utor from NOAA.

Jeff Masters

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384. SteveDa1
6:57 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Go to bed! I won't bug you guys with this thing anymore as it is probably a bad idea and we will never be able to control what the weather wants done...
Have a good night ally and pottery.
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
383. pottery
6:57 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Good night Allybama. I'm gone this time..........
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24231
380. pottery
6:54 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Steve, I'm trying to get to bed !!!!! But yeah, you can indeed stop the water coming in , or going out , but you have to achieve both at the same time in a hurricane. Rainfall is creating an enormous amount of runoff while the sea level has risen up 20 feet or so, with battering waves. Thats the prob.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24231
379. AllyBama
6:53 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Steve..give it up! lol...if we have a hurricane in the U.S. make landfall next year, I suggest that you hit the beach BEFORE the storm hits and then after it has hit..better yet..maybe you should stay in a highrise on the beach to get a glimpse of what we are talking about..
joshua fought the battle of jericho and the walls came a tumbling down...
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 132 Comments: 20635
378. SteveDa1
6:51 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Ok... well bye everyone I'm off too then.
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
377. pottery
6:48 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Me too, its been fun................
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24231
376. SteveDa1
6:48 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Pottery - probably but if the "wall" had sections that open with when water pushes against it. When there is a storm surge the sections are locked and cant open. OF course it would require very strong material. I dont know if you are with me with the sections...
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
375. AllyBama
6:45 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Good night to all of you..am headed to bed as well..
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 132 Comments: 20635
374. pottery
6:44 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Later Drewl....
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373. SteveDa1
6:43 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Thanks for all the comments hornfan, goodnight and see you soon.
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
372. AllyBama
6:43 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
One last thing..there is a lake over at Gulf Shores and the water of mixed..scientists have discovered by studying the silt in the lake that there was a great hurricane about 500 years ago of magnitude that we have never seen - not even with Katrina or Rita..So the possibility exists that there could be another such storm within the next century. How they can tell this I don't know..I will try to find that article and post one day.
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 132 Comments: 20635
371. pottery
6:42 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
your're doing OK steve, but the point is that one day the ocean will eat your wall, just like it ate the levies, because we dont maintain these things. We get complacent and hope for the best and then BOOOOM...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24231
368. Patrap
6:39 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Glad to see ya got to view it.YAll get some sleep too.Gnight.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
367. hornfan
6:39 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
I hear Steve - it is a difficult issue. Not only the science, but also the political landscape and the people issues. Have a good evening. I have to finish some research before I can go to bed. Take care. Good night everyone.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 7902
366. AllyBama
6:38 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
pottery..you are sneaky..i like! lol
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 132 Comments: 20635
365. SteveDa1
6:37 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
I read the whole thing even if it was long :)
The point is, I dont want to be an engineer and I certainly dont know about the geography of the area so what I say doesnt make any sense. Just forget what I said, lol (about the wall) although I have some good points in mind. It is a difficult area to understand...
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364. AllyBama
6:36 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Good night Patrap..tks for sharing the video..
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 132 Comments: 20635
363. pottery
6:36 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Bama, create a nom de plume, he'll never know its you, heheheh
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362. hornfan
6:33 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Good night Patrap
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 7902
361. hornfan
6:31 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
As Bama stated, the storms have always been here and always will. Galveston at one point was considered a rival port to NO in the early 1900s. Then the Cane came. Houston drugged the channel and now it is the port of Houston.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 7902
360. pottery
6:30 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
sleep well Patrap.....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24231
359. hornfan
6:29 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Steve - no worries. You have to understand the geography of New Orleans. And I know this description will make people cring because it will not be techically correct. NO is basically adjacent to Lake Poncatrain with its point adjacent to the Mississippi where the port is. It is below sea level. Although many people describe NO as in a bowl, it is more like a cafeteria tray. Below NO are other cities and swamp or marsh lands. These marsh lands are what I was talking about earlier. The city has been protected by a set of levee systems which were maintained by the Army Corp of Engineers (I will not go into this issue - Patrap area) and a pumping system which was been in place for decades. A gate system (which would probabaly never fly politically in Louisana) may, and I say may, protect any surge from the mouth of the Mississippi but it would not prevent the surge on a direct hit. Remember NO did not take a direct hit from Katrina. The eye went up the Pearl River which is around Slidell LA on the north shore of the Pontchatrain. Mississippi and Alabama got the dirty side of the storm. Sorry the comment was so long.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 7902
358. AllyBama
6:29 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
tks pottery...

yea, Rand only lets me speak occasionally..
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 132 Comments: 20635
357. Patrap
6:27 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Thats the Guy who took the FEMA trailer to DC,Rocky Vacarella....his ordeal is all you need to see.Im going to bed.They ALL survived.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
355. SteveDa1
6:26 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
I probably do need to know physics and it is not something I will ACTUALLY think of building like buster... It was just another thing I can't find words for. Lets sya random idea.
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
354. Patrap
6:26 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
St Bernard Parish just east of New Orleans.The only Storm Surge footage youll ever need to see.Came up in 30 minutes.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
353. pottery
6:26 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
I'll mix a stiff one on that, allybama, well said...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24231
351. Patrap
6:23 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
The ONLY video of the Breach at the 17th St Canal...its exactly 9am..just as the below radar loop ends.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
349. AllyBama
6:22 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Steve..God gave all of us brains (some more than others)on how to build things, etc...but there are somethings that we can't change and the weather is one. Monster storms have been going on for centuries and will continue to do so - with or without global warming. It is all part of the scheme of things..and what God has laid out for mankind..I am not saying that your wall wouldn't work somewhere but the environmental impact would do more damage than good. Man just needs to learn to respect nature..
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 132 Comments: 20635
348. pottery
6:20 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Steve, you need to understand the dnynamics of a zillion cubic meters of water moving about in areas where there are restrictive phenomena. Islands and stuff. Bottom contours. I live close to the mouth of the Orinoco River, and sometimes when I am at the coast I wonder how come this island is here at all..........
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24231
346. Patrap
6:19 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
The Local landfall radar loop.Gulf Coast Aug 29th,Link 05
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
345. Trouper415
6:19 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
GIANTS IN 07
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
343. SteveDa1
6:17 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Well maybe i'll make a picture showing my idea as a wall...
Sorry if i'm confusing you guys.
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1297
341. AllyBama
6:16 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Horn..when I was young there used to be a public beach facility at Dauphin Island and the water was 50 to 100 yds from the building. The public facility went by the wayside with Camille but today, there isn't even room for a building of that size period. In fact, there is a big dropoff to the beach and a lot of tree stumps exposed which used to be covered by sand.
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 132 Comments: 20635
340. hornfan
6:11 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Bama - I hear ya. i remember going back to NO a little while after the storms. We were traveling to the North SHore (on the other side of the lake). My friends sorta laugh at me because I had a confused look on my face. Then, they told me that the marsh were no filled with water which they had not been before the storm. I felt like an idiot.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 7902
339. AllyBama
6:10 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
I am sorry Steve..just don't see a big wall going up off of Alabama..the shrimpers would have a fit and then we would be at war with the vietnamese again!
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 132 Comments: 20635
336. hornfan
6:08 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Why don't they just put a huge wall at the mouth of the river (right on ocean) so that the water would not go in the river at all.

I am not sure - what kind of wall you are talking about. The ships have to flow out.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 7902
335. Patrap
6:07 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Heres a reference overview.Click to eLinknlarge
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
334. AllyBama
6:06 AM GMT on December 12, 2006
Storms alter the shape of the coastline topside as well as along the ocean floor..ex. Dauphin Island is a barrier island that is protected by another barrier island - Sand Island..which over the years has been torn apart by storms..the relation of Sand Island to Dauphin Island changes with each storm and after Katrina, you can almost walk to Sand Island instead of having to take a boat..the currents created by the shifts in the sand can cause erosion to houses futher down the beach. This summer your house maybe 10 ft. from the water and after the next storm you maybe at the waters edge.
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 132 Comments: 20635

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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.