A butterfly flaps its wings

  • Typhoon Rammasun off the Philippines. Image: NOAA

    Typhoon Rammasun approaching southern China. Image: NOAA

  • A butterfly flaps its wings
    19.07.2014 14:18

    Here in the UK the unsettled, warm air mass that caused the spectacular thunderstorms in the south on Friday has continued to push north. The south-western, central and northern parts of the UK have had all the excitement today, as the lightning storms have been particularly frequent here. The thunderstorms should be less frequent on Sunday with sunny intervals and a few sharp showers in England and Wales, these mainly in western areas alongside East Anglia. Patchy rain and drizzle in Scotland and Northern Ireland will clear to leave scattered showers.

    The unsettled and thundery weather in the UK may be considered extreme by some, but one only needs to look to southern China and the Philippines to realise that our weather is incomparable to a real extreme weather event, in this case a typhoon.

    The typhoon, named Rammasun, started out a few days ago in the northwest Pacific basin, where it matured from a tropical depression. The warm waters, high instability, high humidity and low wind shear enabled the storm system to grow rapidly. The typhoon, with a radius of nearly 500km, hit the Philippines on Wednesday, with wind gusts of up to 185kph and torrential rain. The damage was not only to property and infrastructure, as more than 70 people have been reported dead so far.

    The storm eased after passing over the Philippines but once in the warm waters off China it once again deepened. The typhoon then swung north-west towards the isle of Hainan, unexpectedly and explosively deepening. Winds of over 200kph were reported, just short of a super typhoon - over 241kph. The typhoon then smashed into the island on the 18/07/2014. The weather station at Meilan recorded sustained winds speeds of 126kph at 10:00 UTC and 400mm of rain was collected in the 24 hour period. It has been the strongest typhoon to hit the area in over 40 years.

    The typhoon is currently dying out as it pushes further inland over mainland China and towards northern Vietnam. The current winds of 111kph are expected to ease to 30kph by tonight. So far there have been several reported deaths but the overall tally may take a few days to collect. A lot of infrastructure has been damaged and emergency services are struggling to get to some of the more remote areas due to flooded or destroyed transport links.

    Those that managed to weather the storm may be breathing a sigh of relief, but another typhoon, Matmo, even now grows in the basin. 

    By: John Griffiths