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Typhoon Mirinae less destructive than feared for Philippines

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:15 PM GMT on October 31, 2009

Typhoon Mirinae blew through the Philippines' Luzon Island yesterday as a borderline Category 1 to 2 typhoon with top winds of 95 - 100 mph. Due to the rapid forward motion of the typhoon and a sharp decrease in the storm's organization just prior to landfall, rainfall amounts from the typhoon were less than six inches over Luzon. The eye of Mirinae passed over the capital of Manila, where winds peaked at minimal tropical storm force, 39 mph, with gusts to 56 mph, at 6 am local time Saturday. Nearby weather stations recorded sustained winds as high as 44 mph, and rainfall amounts of 2 - 3 inches. Though Mirinae is being blamed for at least 11 deaths, with 7 people still missing, it's fair to say that the typhoon largely spared the Philippines. The Manila Bulletin is reporting that a tornado (called an "ipo-ipo" there) injured ten and destroyed some 60 houses in Cavite and Ternate as Mirinae swept through.

Mirinae, now just a tropical storm with 65 mph winds, is currently over the South China Sea. Mirinae is expected to make landfall in south-central Vietnam near 00 UTC on Monday, November 2. As Mirinae approaches Vietnam, wind shear will increase, sea surface temperatures and the total heat content of the ocean will sharply decrease, and the storm will encounter cooler, more stable air. These negative influences should make Mirinae a 45 - 55 mph tropical storm at landfall in Vietnam.

Figure 1. Filipinos watch the onslaught of Typhoon Mirinae on Saturday. Image credit: Jim Edds. His extremestorms.com website has images and videos from the landfall of Mirinae.

Quiet in the Atlantic
A non-tropical low pressure system in the middle Atlantic Ocean, near 30N 50W, 700 miles east of Bermuda, has cut off from the jet stream. This low will slowly wander westward toward Bermuda over the next three days. It is possible that the low will spend enough time over water to acquire some tropical characteristics and become Subtropical Storm Ida, though I put the chances at low, less than 30%. SSTs are 25 - 26° C in the region, which is barely warm enough to support a tropical storm. Wind shear is high, 30 - 50 knots, and there is a large amount of dry air to the west of the low, so no development will occur today. The storm is expected to recurve to the north well east of Bermuda on Tuesday.

None of the reliable computer models is calling for tropical storm development in the Atlantic over the next seven days. The GFS and NOGAPS models are calling for a tropical storm to form off the Pacific coast of Mexico near the Guatemala border by the middle of next week, and it is possible that this development could occur on the Atlantic side of Central America instead, as suggested by the Canadian model.

Jeff Masters


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