Haima: from tropical disturbance to super typhoon

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  • Image of two typhoons Sarika and Haima, both of which have tracked over Luzon in the past week, taken from the Suomi NPP satellite. Image: NASA.

    Infrared imagery of Super Typhoon Haima approaching Luzon on Tuesday. Image: NASA.

    Predicted rainfall through the next 72 hours across China, as simulated by the ECMWF model.

  • Haima: from tropical disturbance to super typhoon
    20.10.2016 14:05

     

    Super Typhoon Haima has ripped through the northern Philippines island of Luzon in the past 24 hours as a monstrous storm, leading to widespread devastation and rearing memories of the fatal Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. The path that Haima has taken is a well-trodden path in the West Pacific, and comes after a series of tropical cyclones have impacted the region in the past week or so.

    Haima started out as a cluster of showers and thunderstorms in the Pacific back on 12th October in an area south-east of the islands of Micronesia. The showers soon organised themselves into a broad low pressure circulation and two days later the developing system was categorised as a tropical depression. Steered west-north-west by a large area of high pressure over the Central Pacific, the depression encountered highly favourable environmental conditions (unusually warm sea surface temperatures and low vertical wind shear) in the proceeding days resulting in a progressive intensification. Attaining super-typhoon status on 18th October and heading directly for Luzon, the dangerous cyclone reached a peak wind speed of 195mph before slamming into Cagayan province.

    The effects of Haima have been deadly. Buildings have been flattened, torrential rains have led to widespread flooding and livelihoods have been destroyed due to fields upon fields of loss of crops.  Eight people have already been confirmed dead, with the toll expected to rise significantly as communications become re-established in the coming days. Whilst the Philippines are accustomed to powerful tropical cyclones passing over, the arrival of Haima was preceded by another powerful storm, Typhoon Sarika, just five days earlier.

    The interaction with the mountains of Luzon had a weakening effect on Super-Typhoon Haima and as such it has been downgraded, but as it is currently tracking north-west over the warm waters of the South China Sea it has retained its typhoon status. The forecast track in the coming 24 hours is to make landfall to the east of Hong Kong, bringing torrential rain to south-eastern parts of China and likely giving surface flooding. Sustained winds of 80mph are also expected upon landfall meaning Haima is still a very dangerous cyclone. Fortunately, a break from the very busy recent typhoon activity is expected over the Philippines over the next week, in turn helping to aid the relief efforts from the destruction.

    By: Nick Prebble