The tropics are on fire today with not one but three named storm systems stirring up the ocean across the Western Pacific.
Nearing the Luzon Strait is Monster Typhoon Meranti with a pressure of 905hpa and winds over 300kph
East of Meranti in the Philippine Sea is Malakas which threatens Japan and the Southern Japanese islands including Okinawa.
The most concerning storm for the region is Meranti, mainly because of its intense strength it reached as it
moved over the tropical fuel tank of the Philippine Sea. It is almost certain storms will strengthen when moving through this area in the Western Pacific and sometimes as is the case with Meranti they rapidly explode. We most recently seen this with Typhoon Nepartak back in early July. That storm left over 80 dead in Taiwan and South Eastern China.
Heading in to Tuesday it looks like Meranti has passes its peak strength, the northern semi-circle is interacting with dry air degrading the convection. If this keeps up it would mean for less severe and lasting conditions for Southern Taiwan. But that is only if it was to maintain a slow weakening prior to passing over the Batanes islands in the Luzon Strait Wednesday morning.
The Batanes Islands in fact will take the worst of this storm, this group of islands located north of Luzon is home to about 17,000 Filipino residents who are typhoon resistant. The classic homes on this island are made of coral rock and stones making them capable of withstanding up to even Cat 5 winds.
Still though PAGASA has issued warnings for the island including the threat of;
Impacts of the wind
- Heavy damage to high–risk structures;
- Moderate damage to medium- risk structures;
- Light damage to low-risk structures
- Increasing damage (up to more than 50%) to old, dilapidated residential structures and houses of light materials. Majority of all nipa and cogon houses may be unroofed or destroyed
- Houses of medium strength materials (old, timber or mixed timber-CHB structures, usually with G.I. roofing’s); some warehouses or bodega-type structures are unroofed.
- There may be widespread disruption of electrical power and communication services.
- Almost all banana plants are downed
- Some big trees (acacia, mango, etc.) are broken or uprooted,
- Dwarf-type or hybrid coconut trees are tilted or downed.
- Rice and corn crops may suffer heavy losses
- Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off; some large trees blown down.
Wave Height: > Ocean Wave Height: (Open Sea) > 14.0 meters
Storm surge of up to 2.0 meters is possible at coastal areas.
South Eastern Taiwan will also see a threat from this storm mainly in the form of heavy rainfall. The area is very prone to tremendous rain, floods and landslides when storms push south or right over Taiwan. This is a direct result of the peaks that run across the spine of the island that spike up to 3,000 meters high with the highest being 3,952 meters. Mountains so steep and so close to the ocean act as a wall squeezing out any potential moisture with these tropical systems and often amounting in incredible rain totals much higher than what numerical models predict.
Being on the right front side of the storm though southern Taiwan will also see storm surge and damaging winds with gust in access of 300kph at times. The Taiwan Weather Service CWB has issues Typhoon warnings for the southern coastal areas.
Northern Luzon is on the less severe side of the storm but still close enough to see damaging winds and flooding rainfall. Signal force warnings have been issued across the islands north. Low lying areas and flood plains are at highest risk as rain bands wrap in from the west around the storm.
Hong Kong and South East China?
Models are still somewhat split but confidence continues to build for Meranti to make landfall east of Hong Kong on Thursday. This would mean the city would miss out on the worst of the weather.
Yet coastal communities where the storm will come on shore will be at threat of storm surge, damaging winds and flooding. Especially since the storm will not sustain much weakening as it tracks through the gap between the landmasses of Taiwan and the Philippines.