Tropical Storm Pakhar Threatens Vietnam
After a long quiet stretch, the tropics have finally turned active, at least in the West Pacific, as the basin now has its first named storm of the year, Pakhar. Pakhar is currently crawling west-northwestward in the South China Sea with an intenisty estimated at 45 knots by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).
This image highlights Pakhar's excellent banding features, and possibly a forming eye.
Pakhar's slow movement prevents an obvious problems for countries in its way, particularly Vietnam. The storm is only expected to reach a peak intensity of 60 knots, just under hurricane status, by JTWC, so strong winds will probably not be a huge issue, though I think the 60 knot max forecast may be conservative given Pakhar's excellent banding structure. Regardless, heavy rainfall will be the biggest concern for Vietnam, a country with a history of problems from slow moving tropical cyclones. Rainfall totals are expected to be anywhere from 1-2 feet with isolated higher amounts. This is typically the dry season in Vietnam, so this could potentially create future problems if the area is already saturated when the wet season, and an increased threat of typhoons, come along. Minor coastal flooding from storm surge will be a lesser threat, as will some potentially damaging winds. Pakhar is expected to make landfall about 2 days from now in southern Vietnam. Stay tuned as I may update tomorrow.
Rainbow image showing Pakhar's deep convection.
Elsewhere in the tropics there are no other active storms, but it appears we will see our next system in the South Pacific as all models do develop the storm. It probably will not affect any heavily populated areas but there are many less populated Pacific islands that could be in its path. The East Pacific season will be starting up in about a month and a half on May 15, and the Atlantic season will start soon after on June 1. Most signs continue to point to a weak el nino developing as the season goes on so it still looks like we will see an average season but possibly with a higher US landfall risk.
A quick rundown of other weather...
Severe Weather: The Storm Prediction Center has higlighted a potential area of severe weather for this Monday, April 2. I won't provide too many detalis on this because the models have been all over the place and this is still pretty far out.
Winter Weather: Spring has arrived, but don't tell that to Mother Nature, as the snow is still being measured in feet in the higher elevations of the Northwest. In addition, freeze warnings are up for many areas in the Mid Atlantic.
Earthquakes: None significant since a 7.1 near the coast of Chile last Sunday which left several people injured but thankfully no fatalitie or tsunami.
Solar Weather: The Sun has been fairly quiet in recent days, but that could soon change as old sunspot 1429 should be rotating into view today. 1429 was the source of multiple X class flares on its last trip across the surface of the Sun.
Thank you as always for reading and enjoy the rest of your week!
Updated: 8:32 PM GMT on March 29, 2012
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Lua a Threat to Australia
It's been a little while since my last blog, as the weather has been quite tranquil around the world. The tropics have come back to life in the Southern Hemisphere however with Tropical Cyclone Lua. Lua is currently located northwest of Australia with maximum sustained winds estimated at 50 knots by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Lua is meandering right now, with its latest movement listed as NE at 5 mph. Lua is expected to change dircetion and turn more SE, taking it into Northwest Austrlia in 2-3 days. JTWC currently forecasts the storm to peak at 90 knot intensity, or Category 2 hurricane strength, right around landfall, so residents in Northwest Australia should closely monitor the situation. I personally think Lua will at least get to 90 knots becuase of the favorable environment it is in. In fact, I would not be surprised to see Lua go through a period of rapid intensification as it nears landfall, kind of like what we sometimes see with systems making landfall on the Gulf Coast. Intensity will also depend on exactly how long Lua stays over water. One good thing about Lua is that it is a small storm, so impacts will be more localized.
IR image of Lua. The storm has fairly good banding. It has occasionally shown an eye feature but never actually gotten one together
This image highlights the fact that Lua is in a moist environment, favorable for tropical systems.
Else where in the tropics, an area northeast of Lua has been trying to get its act together, but so far it hasn't managed to.
Spring is now one week away, and the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) continues to forecast unseasonable wamrth for much of the country for the next 2 weeks. There are also worrying signs that the Texas "Death Ridge" may be coming back into play soon, which would be very bad news as the much of the state is still in a drought despite some recent heavy rain.
CPC 8-14 day temperature Outlook
If you're desperate for snow, head out West, as higher elevations in Washington State have 1-2 feet of snow on the way!
The SPC has a small slight risk area in its Severe Weather Outlook for today. The area mostly includes Southern Illinois and Southern Indiana. The main threat will be damaging winds. The SPC has also highlighted a threat area for the Great Plains on Day 5. This will have to be watched, but right now strong squall lines with very strong winds appear to be the biggest threat.
Earthquake Shakes Japan:
Early this morning, an earthquake with Magnitude 6.8 struck off the east coast of Honshu, Japan, close to where the devestaing quake of last year was centered. This quake comes just 3 days after Japan marked the one year anniversary of the quake/tsunami of March 11, 2011. A small tsunami (10-20cm) was observed in Japan after today's quake, but no damage occured. The quake itself was widely felt, but it produced no/minimal damage. Several aftershocks, the largest so far being a 6.1, have hit the area.
Sun Still Active:
The Sun has remained active in the past week as yesterday Sunspot 1429 produced an M7.9 class solar flare. 1429 is the same area that produced the massive X5.4 flare recently. A new sunspot, 1432, produced an M 2.8 flare today.
As always, thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your week!
Two Southern Hemisphere Storms
There's a lot going on in the world of weather right now. First, the tropics. Tropical Cyclone Irina is southwest of Madagascar with winds estimated at 45 knots by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Irina has brought significant death and destruction to Madagascar, a country fresh off a direct hit from powerful Cyclone Giovanna. Madagascar has had a very rough time of it the past several weeks, with well over 100 people confirmed dead between Giovanna and Irina. Irina is likely nearing the end of its existence. JTWC forecasts it to dissippate within a day or 2, and I agree with this as it currently has very little in the way of convection and has been like this for a couple days.
Meanwhile, Tropical Cyclone 16S has formed northwest of Australia. Its current intensity is estimated at 40 knots. It is currently fairly disorganized, with a large blowup of convection but little banding structure. It looks more like a large cluster of thunderstorms than a cyclone. It is forecast to reach a peak intensity of 70 knots, putting it at Category 1 intensity. I personally think it will struggle to make cyclone intensity as it is in an environment conducive for marginal strengthening. I think it will peak somewhere around 55-60 knots 2-3 days from now. Luckily, 16S is not a threat to land areas, as the GFS and Euro both take it to the west, farther from Australia. It is interesting to note that the GFS is much more optimistic than the Euro on strengthening 16S. I have leaned towards the Euro's solution with my prediction.
As far as upcoming tropical events, the Euro takes a weak storm near northwest Australia in about a week, while the GFS develops multiple systems in its latest run, though none of them are significant until the very end of the run when it has a large, powerful cyclone off the west Austrlian coast. This is certainly too far out to take seriously, however.
Quick summary of other important weather news:
Virtually non-existent unless you live in Alaska, which has had a brutal winter. The CPC has been consistent in saying Spring is on the way for the rest of us:
Tomorrow has the best chance out of the next 3 days, with the SPC giving a slight (15%) risk area for northeastern Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, northwestern Louisiana, and southwestern Arkanasas. Hail and damaging winds will be the main threats
Nothing major; biggest in the past week was a 6.6 southeast of the Loyalty Islands; The San Francisco area was shaken up a little by a 4.0 quake Monday.
The Sun unleashed a major solar flare yesterday. While it should not make a direct hit on Earth, even just being grazed by a flare this powerful could cause power/communications issues, as well as set up a northern lights display for much of the country.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your week!
Tracking Storms, Severe and Tropical
The weather is relatively quiet this evening in the US. That will not be the case tomorrow however as a significant outbreak of severe weather is expected across the East Central area of the country tomorrow. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has a moderate threat in its outlook for tomorrow, which includes much of Tennesse and Kentucky as well as northern Alabama and Mississippi and southern Indiana and Ohio. Surrounding this area is a large slight risk area, which shows what a large area is at risk for severe weather tomorrow. One thing that especially worries me is that storms that develop tomorrow are expected to be more supercellular than linear, creating an increased threat for poweful, long tracked tornadoes. In addition to strong torandoes, large hail,thunderstorm winds to 80 mph and deadly lightning will be significant threats. This impending outbreak has even received comparisons to the 1974 outbreak. While I don't think it will be quite this disastrous, this does clearly convey the message that this is a dangerous situation. The timeframe of the storms should be late afternoon, evening, and into the overnight hours. Anyone in the path of these dangerous storms should pay close attention to weather bulletins issued.
In the tropics, the Southern Hemisphere remains somewhat active. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) issued its 3rd and final advisory on Tropical Cyclone 15 today. This storm almost lasted as long as the West Pac's mighty TD One. While never expected to be a monster, TC 15 was expected to last longer than this, yet another example of our inability to forecast the intensity of tropical cyclones.
Tropical Cyclone Irina is currently traversing the Mozambique Channel with 65 mph winds. It is expected to reach minimal cyclone strength before weakening prior to landfall in Southern Mozambique. It is providing some squally weather to Madagascar right now, not what the island needs as it rebuilds after Giovanna. There are no other areas being watched for development right now, but the JTWC is giving the remnants of TC 15 a medium chance of redeveloping.
There's only three months left...
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your week!
TC 15's remnants, showing a big ball of convection but a poor convective pattern.
TC Irina. It has a small area of convection but fairly well developed outflow.