Trouble continues in the tropics

  • Satellite image of Hurricane Nicole, taken on Wednesday 12th October 2016. Image courtesy of NASA.

    Current tropical cyclone activity in the West Pacific, showing several systems ongoing in the basin. 24W is likely to be a typhoon by the time it hits the Philippines this weekend. Image courtesy of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).

    Forecast track of Tropical Depression 24W. Image courtesy of JTWC.

  • Trouble continues in the tropics
    13.10.2016 14:17


    It’s been an active couple of weeks around the tropical basins of the earth with several tropical cyclones spawning and decaying, and forecasters are keeping their eye on a couple of developments over the next few days that may bring significant disruption in places.

    The most notable tropical system of the past week has been the monster Hurricane Matthew, which wrought devastation across Haiti and led to the deaths of over 900 people as it tracked through the Caribbean. It subsequently moved up the east coast of Florida, but fortunately the hurricane-force winds largely stayed just offshore meaning the main impacts were from torrential rain and storm surge. Circulating at the same time as Matthew was Hurricane Nicole, another potent cyclone that has today attained category 4 status and is impacting Bermuda as we speak. Damaging winds, heavy rain and storm surge are all ongoing as the eye of the storm passes just to the east.

    Focusing away from the Atlantic and to the West Pacific, there are several areas of concern at present. The first is Tropical Depression Aere, which has been circulating in the South China Sea over the past few days without really gaining strength. However, there are substantial amounts of moisture tied in with the system and it will today be making landfall across central northern parts of Vietnam. Whilst the winds aren’t expected to be much of a hazard, copious amounts of rainfall are likely with the rain torrential and slow-moving in places. Indeed, rainfall totals through the coming 48 hours may be in excess of 300mm leading to the likelihood of flash flooding and landslides.

    The next cyclone forecasters are monitoring is the newly-formed Tropical Depression 24W. Yet to be officially named but expected to be called Sarika, it will undergo a fairly rapid intensification over the next 48 hours as it tracks W/NW towards the Philippines before making landfall across the northern island of Luzon early on Sunday. By this point it is expected to have attained typhoon status with sustained surface winds of around 85mph. Whilst this is not nearly as strong as the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, residents of Luzon may be afflicted by wind damage and flooding again this weekend. After weakening over land, the typhoon will likely undergo a resurgence next week in the South China Sea as it moves over warm surface waters. There is considerable uncertainty in the resultant track at this point, with anywhere from Vietnam to southern China potentially being impacted by the system. The bad news for the Philippines in that there may be another significant tropical cyclone developing mid-week in the wake of Sarika.


    By: Nick Prebble