Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog
Earth’s most dangerous tropical cyclone so far in 2013 is Category 4 Typhoon Utor, which is closing in on the northern Philippine Island of Luzon. Landfall is expected at approximately 20 UTC (4 pm EDT) Sunday near Casigran. Satellite imagery shows a formidable storm with well-organized spiral bands, a prominent eye, and good (but not excellent) upper-level outflow. Ocean temperatures are very warm, about 30°C (86°F), which is approximately 0.5 – 1.0°C above average. These warm waters extend to tremendous depth, giving Utor a huge source of energy to tap into. Wind shear is low, 5 – 10 knots. Theoretically, the Maximum Potential Intensity (MPI) that Utor can achieve under these conditions is sustained winds of 185 mph. However, Utor will not have time to reach that strength before encountering Luzon. The official forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center calls for intensification to 140 mph winds by 18 UTC Sunday, but it is possible that Utor will have time to intensify to a 150 mph super typhoon before landfall. Utor is a very wet storm, and will likely bring a large swath of 8+ inches of rain across Luzon. These rains will cause dangerous flash flooding and mudslides. Utor will likely weaken to a Category 1 storm as it passes over Luzon, but is expected to re-intensify to a Category 2 storm before hitting China a few hundred miles south of Hong Kong about 20 UTC on Tuesday.
Utor is a Marshallese word for squall line, and has been used for three tropical cyclones in the Western Pacific–in 2001, 2006, and 2013. Typhoon Utor is called Typhoon Labuyo in the Philippines. Utor’s 135 mph winds make it the 2nd strongest tropical cyclone globally so far in 2013. Earth’s most powerful tropical cyclone in 2013 was Typhoon Soulik, which reached Category 4 strength with 145 mph winds on July 10, before weakening to a Category 2 storm that hit Taiwan on July 12.
Typhoon Labuyo continues to threaten Luzon as it continues to move closer towards the Isabela and Aurora provinces.
Based on its 5:00 p.m. advisory, several areas remain under signal number 3: Aurora, Nueva Viscaya, Mt. Province, Polilio Island, Quirino, Benguet, Ifugao, Nueva Ecija and Isabela
Signal number 2, on the other hand, is hoisted over: Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Rizal, Northern Quezon, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Abra, Apayao, Kalinga and Cagayan
Metro Manila, meanwhile, remains under signal number one.
Other areas under signal number one are: Albay, Sorsogon, the rest of Quezon, Laguna, Calayan and Babuyan Group of Islands, Ilocos Norte, Zambales, Bataan, Cavite, and Batangas.
In a press conference on Sunday morning, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) officer-in-charge Vicente Malano said Labuyo is the “strongest” typhoon so far to hit the country.
At 4:00 p.m., PAGASA said Labuyo was spotted 130 kilometers North of Virac, Catanduanes or 220 kilometers southeast of Casiguran, Aurora.
It has maximum sustained winds of 165 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 200 kilometers per hour.
Estimated rainfall amount is from 10 to 25 millimeter per hour (heavy – intense) within the 600 kilometer diameter of the typhoon.
It is expected to be at the vicinity of Pasil, Kalinga by Monday afternoon.
Labuyo is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility by Tuesday morning with improved weather seen to prevail by Wednesday.
Red alert declared
Meanwhile, Undersecretary Eduardo Del Rosario said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has already declared a red alert at 8 a.m. today over areas that would most be affected by Labuyo.
“Pinaghanda po natin lahat ng provincial disaster risk reduction and management councils in regions 5, 1, 2, 3 and NCR. Patuloy po ang ating paghahanda at ang mga local government units ay nasabihan na rin dahil may kalakasan po ang typhoon,” he said.
In line with this, hundreds of passengers got stranded in various ports of Bicol and Eastern Visayas after sea vessels were prevented to set sail by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
More than 7,000 are now stranded in several ports in Luzon.
PAGASA said residents in low lying and mountainous areas with storm signals should be vigilant against possible flashfloods and landslides.
Likewise, those living in coastal areas under signal no. 3 and no. 2 are alerted against storm surges.