Typhoons, Hurricanes, and MH370: Weather Around The World, 10/7/14


Home / Typhoons, Hurricanes, and MH370: Weather Around The World, 10/7/14
Satellite photo of Typhoon Phanfone as it approached Tokyo on Oct. 5. Image courtesy of NASA

Satellite photo of Typhoon Phanfone as it approached Tokyo on Oct. 5. Image courtesy of NASA

Japan braces for its second typhoon in a week.

In the US, residents of the southwest look forward to flooding rain from a hurricane’s leftover moisture and midwesterners cringe at the prospect of another brutal winter.

The search for MH370 resumes in the remote Indian Ocean, a sea dries up in Russia, and conditions could be soggy for the baseball playoffs.

The weather is affecting life in far-flung places, so let’s go around the world.

Typhoons In The Western Pacific Ocean

Typhoon Phanefone struck Tokyo directly, but by the time it got there, the previously Near-Super-Typhoon (Phanfone was about 10 miles per hour short of the 150 mile per hour Super-Typhoon threshold) was a shadow of its former self.

Though the Joint Typhoon Warning Center still classified Phanfone a typhoon, and winds gusted to typhoon force, the highest sustained wind, the metric by which hurricanes and typhoons are classified, was measured in Tokyo at 47 miles per hour (a typhoon force wind is over 74 miles per hour).

Wind damage from Phanfone was not extensive, but over ten inches of rain caused major flooding. Though Japan is accustomed to typhoons and is well-prepared, seven people died from the combination of wind, rain, and rough seas.

Japan has the modest good fortune to be just out of the normal range of the most powerful typhoons. As the storms move north, they encounter colder water and vertical wind shear (change of wind with height) associated with the mid-latitude jet stream.

The Philippines have no such luck. They are in the direct path of westward-moving typhoons, which pass over continuously warm water with no vertical disruptions of the favorable winds. Hence the devastation of Super-Typhoons Haiyan last year and Rammasun this year.

The projected path of Typhoon Vongfong. Forecast courtesy of US Navy

The projected path of Typhoon Vongfong. Forecast courtesy of US Navy

Typhoon Phanfone is long gone, but following along the same path is Typhoon Vongfong, which could become a Super-Typhoon and threaten Japan next week.

Hurricanes In The Eastern Pacific Ocean

There are no actual or potential tropical storms in the Atlantic. But in the eastern Pacific, Simon, though now just classified a remnant low pressure area, will bring flooding to parts of Mexico and the US southwest this week.

The water south of Mexico has been the breeding ground for over a dozen storms this year, and the water temperature remains above normal, so more storms are likely in this part of the tropics before the official hurricane season ends on Nov. 30.

The Search For MH370 In The Indian Ocean

How something as large as a commercial airliner can disappear and not be found is an easy question to answer if the plane is at the bottom of the South Indian Ocean — a thousand miles from any land, at 40 degrees latitude, in water several miles deep.

Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014 and no scrap of the plane has ever been found, despite intense efforts in ensuing months. The search has been on hold since June, while researchers used sonar to map the ocean floor in the area deemed most likely to be the site of the wreckage.

Unfortunately the season of good weather, such as it is in the southern Indian Ocean, is over. The roaring 40s, which is what mariners call this part of the world (40 degrees latitude) make a louder sound in winter than in summer.

The search will be hampered and probably often interrupted by powerful storms that ‘roar’ across thousands of miles of open ocean.

The Persistent Ridge In The Western Pacific Ocean Forebodes Another Nasty Winter In The US

Residents of much of the eastern US, still weary from last winter’s weather,  are casting wary eyes on long-range forecasts. Some remarkably persistent aspects of last winter’s jet stream flow have lasted through the summer and into the fall. If they continue into winter, snow shovels and strong backs will be at a premium come January.

Decoded Science has pointed out a possible reason for the pattern that produces harsh winter conditions in the eastern two-thirds of the Untied States: Well-above normal sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Gulf of Alaska and adjacent water of the eastern Pacific Ocean.

The water warms the air and creates high pressure at jet stream level (warm air expands, so there is more atmosphere above any given height). The high pressure in the jet stream over the eastern Pacific creates a downstream low pressure wave. The northwest flow brings cold air from Canada into the plains and then eastward.

Let’s hope for a change in the pattern.

Baseball Weather

Baltimore and Kansas City will be playing for the American League pennant; the seven game series begins on Friday. Both cities can experience foul weather for baseball at this time of year, and in fact the forecast for Friday calls for a good chance of rain in Baltimore where the series will begin.

Climate Change: The Aral Sea Is Drying Up

The Aral Sea is drying up. Image courtesy of NASA

The Aral Sea is drying up. Image courtesy of NASA

The Aral Sea is located between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, former Soviet Republics in central Asia. The eastern lobe of the lake completely dried up for the first time in August.

Water has a moderating effect on climate, so the reduction of water surface has resulted in harsher weather, both summer and winter.

Glaciers in nearby mountains are melting, rainfall in the region has diminished, and desertification is changing the landscape.

Though climate change undoubtedly has an effect on all bodies of water, the main culprit in this case is poor water management — namely, the diversion of water from the lake.

The correct conclusion is that man is changing his environment in more ways than just through greenhouse gas emissions.

Look around. What changes do you notice in your neighborhood?

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