Western Pacific Tropical Cyclone Climatology – January

January Tropical Cyclone Tracks – Japan Meteorological Agency Best Track (1951-2016)
Cyan dots denote winds 65 to 115 km/h.

Happy New Year and welcome to a new month. Climatologically speaking, January tends to be a quiet month for the Western Pacific basin. Over the 66 years of the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) best track data, a tropical cyclone exists in the month of January roughly once every two years (0.55 per year). This includes tropical cyclones that formed in December, but persisted into the month of January. In 2016, no tropical cyclones existed in January while 2015 featured Severe Tropical Storm Mekkhala (Amang in the Philippines). Within the best track data, no tropical cyclones reached typhoon-strength.

The hot spots for activity are along the eastern bounds of the Philippine Area of Responsibility and near the western Caroline Islands, to include Palau and Yap state of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).  To a lesser extent are the Philippines, with the bulk of activity focused on the Visayas and MIMAROPA regions.  That said, risk on an annual basis is very low as this is the quiet time of the year.  Tropical cyclones within a 200 km radius of the aforementioned landmasses occur roughly once per decade.  Below is a statistical average of tropical cyclones to affect a region per year based on the JMA best track data, in no particular order.

  • MIMAROPA, Philippines — 0.08 / yr
  • Southeast Luzon, Philippines — 0.06 / yr
  • Visayas, Philippines — 0.09 / yr
  • Mindanao, Philippines — 0.06 / yr
  • Palau — 0.11 / yr
  • Yap, FSM — 0.15 / yr
  • Guam — 0.09 /yr

No tropical cyclones are recorded to have made landfall elsewhere in the Asian continent, to include the Indochina peninsula, China, Taiwan, the Korean peninsula, and Japan.

Bottom line, it should be quiet for the month, but never let your guard down.  It only takes one storm to cause a disaster, so be prepared!  -Mike



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