Typhoon Higos (WP022015) in the North Pacific

Typhoon Higos is moving through the North West Pacific, in the big blank area between Guam and Wake Island:
higos

Nothing in the way, no damage forecast.  It’s a bit unusual for this time of year, but our good records of the Pacific only go back to the 1940’s, so it’s a bit hard to draw any conclusions from this.  This is the second North West Pacific storm (the WP022015 designation is the Joint Typhoon Warning Center tracking number – WP is West Pacific, 02 is the second storm, 2015 the year).

Snow means it’s warmer???

Not a lot of major disasters lately (although the small ones obviously hurt the folks in the way), and I’ve been busy doing a climate analysis project for the UK DFID. The real time site always has the latest earthquakes, volcanoes, and hurricanes/tropical cyclones situation.

The recent snowstorms across the US have triggered the usual snarky comments from those who don’t accept the *fact* of anthropogenic climate change.  But anyone who has lived in the far north or arctic knows that it has to be “warm” to get snow.
Huh?
You read that right, but “warm” is a relative term.  Take a look at this graph, from Danial Cobb, science officer of the NWS/WFO in Caribou, Maine (click to embiggen):
snowratio

Not the biggest/fluffiest/deepest snow rates will be between -14 and -18 C.  OK, -16C (3.2F for you folks stuck in the 17th Century) isn’t warm if you are from the south, but it’s actually pretty “warm” for places that routinely see temperatures below zero F.  The other big issue is that the colder it gets, the less moisture the air can hold.  So colder air is naturally drier, and can’t hold as much snow.  So the “optimum” for both quantity and depth is somewhere between freezing and zero F.  Ironically, in the arctic, to get a blizzard, it has to warm up!  The other big issue is transporting moist air into the colder areas.  The models have predicted (and we seem to be seeing) more “latitudinal” (eg north-south) flow, which would cause more stormy and snowy weather – even though the overall temperatures are actually “higher” in relative terms.

Climate change is a very complex phenomena, intermixing human and natural changes and activities.  Far too many people on both sides of the debate do the discussion a disservice by simplistic, apocalyptic explanations.

WP01 (Mekkhala) Makes landfall on the Philippines; stronger than expected

Typhoon Mekkhala (WP012015) is making landfall on the Philippines as a minimal Typhoon.  The current forecast track/intensity, using the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) forecast and my Taru model, is below.  JTWC continues the trend last year of not doing a great job on intensity forecasts – Thursday the landfall intensity was only forecast as 50 knots, but the storm is significantly stronger today, at 70 knots.

wp01_fri

Estimated impacts are around $150 Million USD, although the misery will be out of proportion to that due to the ongoing recovery from last year’s storms.

Mekkhala has forced the Holy Father to cut short his papal visit, barely making it out ahead of the storm. Unfortunately, there was a fatality when some scaffolding near the stage collapsed, and an airplane carrying government officials overshot the runway and ended up in a ditch just after he left.  I’ll not comment on the theological implications of that.

Typhoon headed towards Philippines

We already have the first storm of the 2015 season, and it’s headed towards the same place many of the storms hit last year: the central and northern Philippines:
wp01_thu

Using the Joint Typhoon Center track, damage is forecast to be in the $40 Million range, with the storm peaking as a 50 knot tropical storm, and passing south of Manila as a minimal tropical storm.  All in all shouldn’t be too bad, but there are still a lot of people reeling from last year so this is not exactly a welcome system.

Gonzalo closes in on Bermuda

Gonzalo will pass over or very close to Bermuda today.  Here’s the visual band view as the sun rises this morning:
govis2

The forecast tracks are all tightly cluster with the peak winds passing directly over the island.  Here is the forecast wind swath, using the NHC forecast track and my Taru wind model:
gomph

Slight wobbles will matter a lot – and because wind damage is relative to the cube of the wind speed, even 10mph difference can mean a lot.  On this track we would expect 110 to 120mph winds over the islands.  That is almost identical to Hurricane Fabian in 2003.  Fabian caused over $300 Million USD in damage in 2003; we should expect at least as much from this storm unless we get a lucky wobble.

Hawaii, Bermuda in the path of hurricanes

Hurricane Gonzalo continues to intensify in the Atlantic, and is still forecast to track very close to Bermuda as a category three hurricane:
gonzo
I
f this forecast holds up, it could cause as much damage as Fabian in 2003.

In the Pacific, Hawai’i is in the forecast track for Tropical Storm Ana.  Ana should become a hurricane today, and on the current forecast from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center (run through my Taru model) it looks like this:
ana

This track could easily cause several hundred million in damage.

Hurricane Watch

Vongfong is moving offshore from Japan, continuing to decay.  It caused some damage, a few fatalities.   India continues to assess the damage and start the recovery process from Hudhud.  My Istanu damage estimated impacts of over $5 Billion USD from the storm.

Meanwhile, in the Atlantic, Hurricane Gonzalo passed over the leeward islands as a tropical storm, causing some damage to Antigua, knocking out power and damaging roofs.    The current forecast is scary for Bermuda, with a direct hit in about three days as a Category 3 hurricane:
gonzo