WunderBlog Archive » Category 6™

Category 6 has moved! See the latest from Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson here.

Category 3 Typhoon Phanfone Pounding Japan

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 7:02 PM GMT on October 04, 2014

Dangerous Category 3 Typhoon Phanfone is pounding the small islands south of the main Japanese island of Kyushu with torrential rains and wind gusts of up to 101 mph as the storm heads north towards Tokyo. Winds at Japan's Kita-daitō (North Daitō Island) gusted to 45.3 m/s (101 mph) at 2:35pm JST (1:35 am U.S. EDT) on Saturday, before the wind observations were knocked offline. Minami-daitō has set an all-time calendar-day record for the month of October with 217.0 mm (8.54 inches) of rain, beating the old October record of 198.5 mm on Oct. 26, 2010. Daily rainfall records go back to 1942 there (thanks go to TWC's Nick Wilgen for these stats.) Japanese radar showed that rains from the outer spiral bands of Phanfone were moving over southern Kyushu and southeastern Honshu on Saturday afternoon (in U.S. EDT time.) Satellite loops show that Phanfone remains a large typhoon with a prominent eye, but wind shear of 30 knots is disrupting the storm and stretching it into an oval shape, with the heavy thunderstorms no longer as intense. Our two top models for predicting typhoon tracks, the GFS and European, predicted with their 12Z Saturday runs that Phanfone would hit the main Japanese island of Honshu near 18 UTC on Sunday, and make its closest pass by Tokyo near 00 UTC Monday (8 pm EDT Sunday.) High wind shear and cooler waters will continue to weaken Phanfone, and it should be no stronger than a Category 1 storm at its point of closest approach to Tokyo. Heavy rains from Phanfone are the main threat, and are likely to bring dangerous flash flooding and mudslides. The 12Z Saturday morning run of the GFDL model predicted that Phanfone would dump widespread rains of 4 - 8" across much of Japan.

Figure 1. Radar image of Typhoon Phanfone taken at 03:35 JST (2:35 pm EDT Saturday, October 4, 2014) from the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Figure 2. Predicted precipitation for Typhoon Phanfone as simulated by the GFDL model at 12Z Saturday October 4, 2014. Phanfone was predicted to dump rains of 8+ inches (yellow colors) across portions of Japan. Image credit: NOAA/GFDL.

A Typhoon Watch in Guam for Typhoon Vongfong
Typhoon Vongfong was headed west-northwest at 14 mph in the Pacific waters about 550 miles east-southeast of Guam at 11 am EDT Saturday, and that island is under a Typhoon Watch. Vongfong is expected to pass though the Northern Mariana Islands on Monday as a Category 2 or 3 typhoon. The storm is expected to turn more to the northwest later in the week, and could be a threat to Japan in 7 - 9 days.

Figure 3. Latest satellite image of Hurricane Simon.

Simon says: I'm a hurricane!
In the Eastern Pacific, Hurricane Simon put on a burst of rapid intensification Saturday morning to became the season's thirteenth hurricane. A NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft was investigating the storm Saturday afternoon, and at 1:20 pm EDT found a central pressure of 952 mb and flight level winds at 10,000 feet of 130 mph, which typically translates to a surface wind speed of 115 mph--which would make Simon a low-end Category 3 hurricane. Simon is expected to recurve to the north, and dissipate off the central coast of Mexico's Baja Peninsula on Tuesday. The 12Z Saturday runs of the GFS and European models have come into agreement that Simon's remnants will bring another round of heavy rainfall to the Southwest U.S. beginning on Wednesday.

Simon's ascension to hurricane status gives the unusually busy 2014 Eastern Pacific hurricane season 18 named storms, 13 hurricanes, and 7 intense hurricanes so far (east of 140°W.) An average Eastern Pacific hurricane season sees just 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes during the entire year, with two of those named storms and one hurricane occurring after October 10. If Simon becomes an intense hurricane, as appears likely, 2014 will tie with 1992 for the highest number of intense Eastern Pacific hurricanes in one season--eight. Simon is the 12th consecutive named storm to become a hurricane in the Eastern Pacific, after Genevieve, Hernan, Iselle, Julio, Karina, Lowell, Marie, Norbert, Odile, Polo, and Rachel. The previous record for consecutive hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific was eight, set in 1992 (Orlene, Iniki, Paine, Roslyn, Seymore, Tina, Virgil, Winifred.) Thanks go to wunderground members CybrTeddy and Mark Cole for looking up these stats.

Quiet in the Atlantic
Our top three models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis show nothing developing over the next five days.

Hurricane expert Steve Gregory offers his take on what rest of hurricane season might bring in his Thursday afternoon post.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.