This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Super Typhoon Vongfong headed for Okinawa

Stay safe, dear friends in Okinawa and Japan!

The largest typhoon of the calendar year is heading toward Okinawa. It is the fifth super typhoon of the year (150 km sustained winds or higher). It is the strongest storm since Typhoon Haiyan, which killed over 5,000 people in the Phillipines in November, 2013. It is following on the heels of Thyphoon Fanphone which struck near Tokyo just a few days ago.

Forecast from The Weather Channel
According to The Weather Channel, it intensified rapidly overnight Monday. As of 11:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday in the U.S.), the eye of the hurricane was just under 600 miles south-southeast of the major Kadena Air Base on Okinawa (see graphic), and it was moving northwest at 8 mph. According to a report in Stars and Stripes:

7:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, Japan time: Not good, campers. Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s latest forecast track depicts a slightly closer turn by Vongfong to Okinawa late Saturday into Sunday. Closest point of approach now projected at 62 miles east-northeast at about 10 p.m. Saturday.
That changes the wind forecast timeline for Okinawa given Vongfong’s latest forecast proximity to Okinawa. Here’s the latest from Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing Weather Flight:
  • 29-mph crosswinds at Kadena, from 3 p.m. Friday.
  • Sustained 40-mph winds, from 2 a.m. Saturday.
  • Sustained 58-mph winds, from 11 a.m. Saturday.
  • Maximum 63-mph winds and 74-mph gusts at Kadena, maximum 81-mph sustained winds and 104-mph gusts over northeastern Okinawa at 11 p.m. Saturday.
  • Winds diminishing below 58 mph sustained, from 6 a.m. Sunday.
  • Winds diminishing below 40 mph sustained, from 11 a.m. Sunday.
  • 29-mph crosswinds no longer occurring at Kadena, from 11 a.m. Tuesday.
All of this could change, since there’s a large disparity among dynamic model guidance. JTWC forecast tracks tend to fall toward center of model consensus. We’ll see how things go in the next couple of days. PST will keep this under finger.

It is likely to to hit Honshu on Monday into Tuesday as a Category 1 tropical storm. Some areas that will be hit experienced up to 10" of rain from Phanfone, so the danger of flash flooding and mudslides along the eastern coast of Japan is high, with some areas getting an estimated 8-12" of rain.

The conditions that contributed to the rapid intensification were very low vertical wind shear, high outflow winds spreading away from the center and thus encouraging upward motion of air and thunderstorms, and warm western Pacific water. The estimated central pressure is about 900 millibars.

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