Super Typhoon Vongfong

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  • False colour image of Super Typhoon Vongfong. Image courtesy: NASA/NOAA

    Forecast track of Super Typhoon Vongfong. Image courtesy: Joint Typhoon Warning Center

    Infrared image clearly shows the eye of Super Typhoon Vongfong as it passes the Phillipines. Image courtesy: NOAA/Joint Typhoon Warning Center

  • Super Typhoon Vongfong
    09.10.2014 14:52

    Vongfong started life at the end of September as a weak tropical disturbance. It gained strength as it moved over the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean and was classified as a tropical storm on the 2nd October. It was named Vongfong, which translates into English as ‘wasp’. The storm intensified further, becoming a typhoon on the 3rd October.

    In our news item published on the 4th October (Pacific Ocean Tropical Cyclones) we suggested that Typhoon Vongfong would become stronger and it did, reaching Super Typhoon strength on the 8th October.

    A measure of the intensity of a typhoon (or hurricane, or cyclone) is the atmospheric pressure at the centre of the storm system. In simple terms, the lower the central pressure, the stronger the storm is. For example, the storm which hit the UK in October 1987 had a minimum central pressure of 953mbar.

    Super Typhoon Vongfong is estimated to have had a central pressure of 900 millibars on the 8th October, which makes it the strongest tropical storm seen anywhere in the world (so far) this year. It isn’t the lowest ever recorded though – that dubious honour belongs to Typhoon Tip which had a central pressure of 870 millibars on October 12th, 1979.

    The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii is currently providing forecasts for Super Typhoon Vongfong. Their latest guidance suggests that Vongfong has lost a little of its former intensity, but is still a very strong storm system. At the time of writing the JTWC guidance suggests that there are sustained winds near the storm centre of 150mph, with gusts of 185mph.

    The latest forecast track graphic shows Vongfong moving northwards towards Japan over the next few days, then moving along the length of Japan at the start of next week. There is some uncertainty over the track of the storm but it should remain inside the cross-hatched area on the attached graphic.

    Super Typhoon Vongfong follows on the heels of Typhoon Phanfone which affected Japan last weekend. Typhoon Phanfone is reported to have killed at least seven people, and caused landslides and other disruption. It also brought very poor weather to the Japanese Grand Prix which contributed to the accident involving Marussia driver Jules Bianchi.

    By: George Goodfellow