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BREAKING: Deep Low Over Japan Moving Away, Rough Conditions Persist Over Vladivostok; Extreme Tropical Heat In Philippine Archipelago, Malaysian Peninsula Surges On

By: Weatherguy Adonis

Adonis S. Manzan

Deep “Low” Ushers Bad Weather Across Japan, Korean Peninsula & Vladivostok

Iloilo City, Philippines, 23 April 2012, (1600Z)–Earlier on Sunday, 22 April 2012, a massive “Low” forges forward off the Yellow Sea, and into West & Southern Japanese Islands, bringing heavy rains and sporadic thunderstorms which has become severe in Naha, Okinawa and the Ryukus Region, and Muroto, just Southwest of Tokushima. The severe weather has also caused disruptions in transportation as dangerous conditions such as flooding potential and occurrence of “Tornadic” activity was not ruled out by the local authorities.

According to Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the deep “Low” Pressure system was causing windy conditions and rough seas, along the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan. The highest winds were recorded near Ryukus Islands, where based on ASCAT wind analysis, I have been observing that top winds have reached to 50 kt (92 km/hr) at most, with stronger gusts as the system continues to drape the Japanese mainland with much convective clouds, and trailing along with it was an active “Front,” anchored along another area of “Low,” just off Hainan Island, in China.

JMA has been issuing several watches on the severe thunderstorm activity affecting the Ryukus Islands, and some parts of Fukui Region, and in Tsuruga, where the agency has been watching a potential for a “Tornado,” of which they have been issuing a “Level 1,” advisory there since 1500-JST (0600Z/0200PM-PHL/MAL).

Heavy precipitation was being observed also especially along Naha, in Okinawa Island, and in Ryukus Islands, wherein rainfall accumulation has reached to 150 mm to 200 mm in just 2 hours of intense rainfall brought about by the system. There were no reports of damage to property or injuries associated with the storm in the region.

The storm has been especially slow in its track Northeastwards, but remains “Quasi-stationary,” at the moment along Vladivostok, the Russian Federation territory.

Fig. 1.0 "JMA's nowcasting precipitation at 1515-JST (0215PM-PHL/MAL). Image Courtesy: JMA, Text: Weatherguy Adonis."

High Pressure Ridge Pushes “Front,” To Dip South, New “Spring Storm” In Progress

The said “Front,” was being forecast to move through along the Okinawa Region within the next 12 hrs, pushing the “Low,” clear off Japan’s West and Central Prefectures by early Monday afternoon. Having said that, the “Front,” was being pushed ultimately Southwards by a dominant “Ridge of High Pressure,” that has been persistent for the last four (4) days along the East Chinese mainland, causing the spillage into the Northwestern periphery of Luzon and the Taiwanese Islands, in between Batanes Island Group and the Babuyan Channel to the North of the Philippines. This has been the reason for a surge of cooler air mass from the West Philippine Sea, a.k.a. “South China Sea,” which has been oscillating some thunderstorms across the Northernmost towns of Luzon, especially along Cagayan and Isabela Provinces to the East, and the grand Cordilleras Region to the Center of Luzon, flanked by Zambales to the West, and Manila in the farther South of it.

As the sweltering heat continues to take its hold across Southeast Asian Region, I have been positive in noting that in the coming 2-3 days, another “Spring Storm,” is forecast to head towards Eastern China, and through Tuesday or Wednesday into the new working week, the Korean Peninsula and Japanese coast could expect another round of severe weather and dipping temperatures especially in higher elevations, more specifically in Sapporo and Hokkaido’s Northernmost tip this week.

Fig. 2.0 "A graphical analysis I made to interpret more closely the weather situation across the Philippine archipelago at 1401Z (1001PM-PHL/MAL). Image Courtesy: NRL Mry, Text: Weatherguy Adonis."

Meantime, Hong Kong could yet again experience another week of severe weather as two (2) brewing storms off Central China has been developing for the last 24 hrs, and this could again spill some exceptionally supercharged atmosphere in the territory in the coming days, which the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) has been closely monitoring its progress.

Flood Warnings For Mindanao, Scattered Thunderstorms Underway 

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), based in Quezon City, Philippines has been issuing a warning on potential flooding along Mindanao, as the trailing effects of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), and the prevailing High Pressure affecting Luzon. This was being reflected in their 0900Z (0500PM-PHL/MAL) advisory on Saturday, 22 April 2012, which the agency did not made mention of a surging “Front,” emanating from mainland China, which could spell some respite from the searing heat that has yet jumped to 38.9C on the same day in Tuguegarao City, in Cagayan Province, and Manila sizzled at 36C, which are based on the highest reading that was obtained at 0700Z (0300PM-PHL/MAL).

Based on the runs that I have been focused on, the surging “Cold air,” mass from the mainland China, colliding with the “Warm front,” from the East of the country could spell the “Orographic lift,” that could spawn some localized thunderstorm activity and increase convection along the coastlines of Palawan, Southern Visayas and Mindanao, and also along the West Philippine Sea, just West of Southern Tagalog Provinces and the Greater Manila Area (GMA) later today.

I am positive on this because the odds are getting better for “Rain showers,” in spots across the country’s Western seaboards and the Eastern coast of Mindanao and Visayas, specifically in Leyte-Samar Provinces, too. We’ll see about it later today when it finally happens.

Fig. 3.0 "An ominous thunderstorm activity which I took photo of on Sunday, 22 April 2012, 24-ft high above the ground over Iloilo City, Philippines. Image Courtesy: Weatherguy Adonis."

The problem I was encountering for almost two (2) years now is the absence of PAGASA’s Doppler Radar Imagery, which I have been consistently been campaigning them to officially open the said facility to public access considering the fact that it was bound to serve the greater purpose of educating most of the 92-million strong Filipinos in the country. I really don’t know why the weather bureau hides it from public eye.

I am calling the attention of the current administration, being led by His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III, of the Philippine Republic, to look into this matter and forge a better organization within the system that governs the country’s weather bureau, whom enjoys a very unpopular reputation amongst majority of its constituency–the Filipino people deserve more from PAGASA, no more slump in forecasting capability, but an empowered workforce, better equipped agency with a primordial duty to protect its citizenry from the adverse effects of climatic challenges of perennial storms and recurring droughts.

Also, I have been monitoring the situation over Luzon, the rest of Southern Tagalog Regions for the last 48 hours, since we got some welcome rains here in Iloilo City on Saturday night, 22 April 2012, coupled with intense thunderstorm activity and rolling thunder across the horizon that could be heard from afar.

Fig. 4.0 "Thundery rains could be seen from afar, as Cb clouds hang low beneath the base of a developing thunderstorm anvil just overhead Iloilo City. Image Courtesy: Weatherguy Adonis."

Malaysia Is Never Far

Based on the Global Forecasting System (GFS), a lot of tropical rainfall could be persisting especially along the near-Equatorial Regions of Asia-Pacific in the coming days, which include our fellow weather caster, Francis Chuah, from Kedah, Malaysia’s Northwesternmost Region is currently located.

Mr. Chuah has been reporting that at around 1300Z (0900PM-PHL/MAL), there has been lightning and some thunder rolling through the night sky, and as the night progresses further, at around 1545Z (1145PM-PHL/MAL), rains have finally fallen in his location. This was also confirmed by their Malaysian Meteorological Department (MalayMet), through Doppler Radar Imagery.

At the onset, there has been two (2) separate “Lows” affecting Malaysia Peninsula and Borneo, which could induce more tropical rains within the next 2-3 days in the forecast. Summer heat can become unbearable especially between early 0200Z (1000AM-PHL/MAL), and 0700Z (0300PM-PHL/MAL), which are mostly affecting the “Diurnal” episode of the convective processes of condensation and evaporation rate per area, that also would depend on the prevailing “Warm air,” and “Cold air” masses that collides which should provide an “Orographic lifting,” that provides the formation of Cb clouds, between low and high elevations. This process also allows the air masses to rise and cool down almost instantaneously as it generates “Humidity,” which result to “Precipitable” cloud formations, and on the most favourable of all conditions, it yields what we call, “Rainfall.”

Fig. 5.0 "A Doppler Radar Imagery of Malaysia Peninsula and Borneo indicating scattered tropical rain showers evidenced in the map. Image Courtesy: MalayMet."

Meantime, this has been your Weatherguy, hailing from the Philippines! =)

With data from NRL Mry, JMA, HKO, MalayMet, PAGASA and Westernpacificweather.com 

 (Note: If you have queries, email me at amanzan@smartbro.net or through weatherguyadonis@theboplive.net)

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Environment Specials: A Coal Love Story

By: Weatherguy Adonis

Adonis S. Manzan

World Coal Addiction vs. 21st Century Environmental Revolution

Iloilo City, Philippines, 17 April 2012, (1600Z)–As the global industries continues to thrive today, the world has never felt such greed to build more from the “Cheapest,” source of energy known to mankind since its first discovery in Virginia, U.S.A., which forged the beginning of the Industrial Revolution of early 1800s.  Today’s heat reached 34C, and it felt uncomfortable despite the cloud cover over our heads, thanks to the prevailing Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), while most parts of the Philippine archipelago sizzles even more in 36C boiler, which to note, most of my brothers in the group in Manila have been noticing the unrelenting intense temperature in the cityscapes where predominantly, skyscrapers tower into the city skyline with all the glamour and glitz of glass magnificence and good ‘ol cemented highrises–a commanding symbol of success and economic upturn that defines the type of living across all nooks and cranny of the metropolis proved unbearable for its people–Mercury rising.

There’s no cooler place to in right in the heart of our cities, where the success story were laid in its foundations beneath our foot soles.  It is where we got life’s conveniences all from cheap stuffs like garments, shoes, bags, raw materials from plant matter and bunker oil-based products, to the very basic needs in everyday living rooms, posh spaces and adequate lighting during the darkest of hours.

The modern world need energy, and lots of it. Everyday, pollution levels skyrocket, bringing the health hazards with it. And it’s not that far to any of us who live in the cities to feel the impacts of air pollution of everyday living. One has to consider that the environment that we have right now will be the kind of life our children’s children in the future, and that is if there will remain a better place for them to live through.

In today’s discussion, I’m about to tackle the aspect of having a cheaper way of producing a global electricity need that dates back in 1800s in a town of West Virginia, U.S.A. The so-called “Coal Revolution,” that ushered the economic miracle in American history that to this day, the world has a growing demand of such mineral resource in order to fuel a continued growth in almost all sorts  of industry today.

Fig. 1.0 "An american miner, shovels the mine pit of coal deposits."

A Brief History

In 1701, “Coal” was discovered in West Virginia and was regarded as a mineral that could revolutionize energy and production. In its early discovery, not until 1748, that it was found to have great use when coal production was recorded in America, and in 13th of April 1750, a man in the person of Dr. Thomas Walker was the first recorded person to discover and use coal in Kentucky.

Since the early 1800s, West Virginia has been estimating that the mineable coal reserves could have reached to nearly 117 billion tons in 62 mineable seams and 45 unminable seams, according to sources.

According to the U.S. Energy & Information Administration (USEIA), “Coal,” would require millions of years to create, since it is a mineral creation of unimaginable history of sedimentation that has resulted to rocky composition of carbons and hydrocarbons, which experts believed that such resources is among abundant fossil fuel produced in the United States alone.

The agency added that since “Coal,” is a nonrenewable energy source because it takes millions of years to create, the energy in coal comes from the energy stored by plants that lived hundreds of millions of years ago, when the Earth was partly covered with swampy forests.

Fig. 2.0 "How coal created through millions of years. Image Courtesy: USEIA."

For millions of years, a layer of dead plants at the bottom of the swamps was covered by layers of water and dirt, trapping the energy of the dead plants. The heat and pressure from the top layers helped the plant remains turn into what we today call coal.

Today, these resource are being turned for producing electric power that generates industries, which the Coal-Fired Power Plants (CFPPs), use steam turns turbines, which the agency called it as “machines for generating rotary mechanical power,” thus it generates electricity. Such end-products generate not only energy for our businesses, homes and industries, but it also benefit our way of modern living, which most people consider a priority as it provides them employment, thus jobs that feed their families too.

Other industries that depend on coal technology use heat and by-products of Coal ingredients such as Methanol and Ethylene which are used in producing plastics, to inlcude tar, synthetic fibers, fertilizers, and medicines.

Fig. 3.0 "Coal miner pushes loads of coal towards a receiving point after the mineral has been extracted below the ground."

Coal is also used to make steel, where a process of steel being subjected to extreme heat in hot furnaces to make coke, which is used to smelt iron ore into iron needed for making steel. It is the very high temperatures created from the use of “coke,” that gives steel the strength and flexibility for things like bridges, buildings, and automobiles.

USEIA also added that concrete and paper industries also use large amounts of coal.

In such contrast, man has to balance his needs and the environment. Tip the balance between the two, and you now have humongous problems in the way.

Coal Industry Environmental Impacts Cited By USEIA

In the US alone, “Surface, or strip mines,” are the source of about 70% of the coal that is mined.  These mining operations remove the soil and rock above coal deposits, or “seams,” disturbing land at its surface. The amount of coal produced at a surface mine is not only determined by the area of land being mined at the surface but the thickness of the coal deposit. For example, in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, where coal deposits may run 70 feet deep, a few acres of land may produce millions of tons of coal.

One surface mining technique that has affected large areas of the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia and Kentucky is mountain top removal and valley fill mining, where the tops of mountains have been removed using a combination of explosives and mining equipment and deposited into nearby valleys. As a result, the landscape is changed, and streams may be covered with a mixture of rock and dirt. The water draining from these filled valleys may contain pollutants that can harm aquatic wildlife downstream. While mountain-top mining has been around since the 1970s, its use became more widespread and controversial since the 1990s.

Fig. 4.0 "A blast furnace in one of the steel manufacturing companies existing in so many countries around the world. Image Courtesy: BBC, USEIA."

U.S. laws require that dust and water runoff from the affected area has to be controlled, and that the area has to be “reclaimed” close to its original condition. Many surface mines have been reclaimed so well that it can be hard to tell that there was a surface mine in the area. However, there are areas that have not been reclaimed as successfully.

Underground mines have less overall impact on the environment than surface mines. The most serious impact of underground mining may be the methane gas that has to be vented out of mines to make the mines safe to work in. Methane is a strong greenhouse gas, meaning that on an equal-weight basis its global warming potential is much higher than for that of other greenhouse gases. In 2009, Methane emissions from underground mines accounted for about 10% of total U.S. Methane emissions and 1% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Surface mines contributed about 2% of U.S. Methane emissions.

The ground above mine tunnels can collapse, and acidic water can drain from abandoned underground mines. Underground coal mining is a dangerous profession, and coal miners can be injured or killed in mining accidents, especially in countries without strict safety regulations and procedures. Miners can also get black lung disease from the coal dust in the mines.

Here are mostly the emission materials released into the atmosphere by burning coal, as defined by the USEIA:

  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2), which contributes to acid rain and respiratory illnesses
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx), which contributes to smog and respiratory illnesses
  • Particulates, which contribute to smog, haze, and respiratory illnesses and lung disease
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the primary greenhouse gas emission from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas)
  • Mercury and other heavy metals, which has been linked with both neurological and developmental damage in humans and other animals. Mercury concentrations in the air usually are low and of little direct concern. However, when mercury enters water — either directly or through deposition from the air — biological processes transform it into methylmercury, a highly toxic chemical that accumulates in fish and the animals (including humans) that eat fish.
  • Fly ash and bottom ash are residues created when coal is burned at power plants. In the past, fly ash was released into the air through the smokestack, but by law much of it now must be captured by pollution control devices, like scrubbers. In the United States, fly ash is generally stored at coal power plants or placed in landfills. Pollution leaching from ash storage and landfills into groundwater has emerged as a new environmental concern.

Mitigation Measures Up

Most CFPP now are using “scrubbers,” known as flue gas desulfurization equipment to reduce the amount of sulfur going out of smokestacks.

USEIA says, power plants use flue gas desulfurization equipment, also known as “scrubbers,” to clean sulfur from the smoke before it leaves their smokestacks. In addition, industry and government have cooperated to develop technologies that can remove impurities from coal or that make coal more energy-efficient so less needs to be burned.

Fig. 5.0 "One of the many global action against coal industry, where protests are conveying to the consumers on how environmentally destructive coal is."

Equipment intended mainly to reduce SO2 (such as scrubbers), NOx (such as catalytic converters), and particulate matter (such as electrostatic precipitators and baghouses) is also able to reduce mercury emissions from some types of coal. Scientists are also working on new ways to reduce mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants.

But there are lots of hazardous materials that are being released into the atmosphere without regard to human and environment safety. This is what concerns us in the prevalence of chronic diseases exposure especially those in the immediate vicinity or path of the smoke emission into the air.

Fig. 6.0 "Greenpeace activists protest in an ongoing coal facility in Sual, Pangasinan, Philippines, wherein the largest CFPP can be found, just 12 km from Dagupan City. Image Courtesy: Greenpeace SEA."

Experts around the world are researching on best ways to mitigate the impacts of coal, dubbed “Black Gold,” as a resource for energy generation. The Carbon dioxide, “CO2,” emission from coal combustion are being considered to be candidate for Carbon sequestration, which the processes involves the capturing of CO2, which scientists believed that it can be encapsulated into a concentrated stream. “CO2 can then be sequestered, which puts CO2 into storage, possibly underground, in such a way that it will remain there permanently,” according to studies.

USEIA also considers greatly the reuse and recycling option that can also reduce coal’s environmental impact. Land that was previously used for coal mining can be reclaimed for uses like airports, landfills, and golf courses. Waste products captured by “scrubbers,” can be used to produce products like cement and synthetic gypsum for wallboard.

A Real World With Coal 

There has been evidenciary support that coal industry has yet to reached the ceiling as the wants of the modern world requirement demands higher energy input, despite the best of efforts thrown by many environmental groups. The reality is that, coal energy is dirty, filthy and cheap source of producing electricity in all sorts, and rapping up its usage could translate into loss of jobs by the millions from around the globe. This is what power companies in the energy sector are always bragging about, to balance their vast interest of resources, the business climate and all money–but there’s a catch, and I am pretty sure we are all aware of its ill-effects to health, welfare and right to breathe clean air, free from all lethal emissions from these plants, away from the hazards of city living, and more importantly, a world without a threat to its environment. Man has been doing these irrational development, without high regard to humanity’s enduring spirit for survival.

Fig. 7.0 "The world coal consumption and demand. Image Courtesy: USEIA."

I should say, the world, and to include its people, led by greedy political leaders have become all greedier, with others in the advanced stage of higher greediness, which even the current of records, greed that is beyond comprehension.

In every action, there are clear repercussions. One way or the other, we will see, feel, and expect extreme climatic events, and it’s just beginning.

Let us not forget that all the world extremes in “Climate Change,” Sea level rise, increasingly stronger Hurricane, Typhoons and Tropical Cyclones in all of the world’s oceans, and the extreme Tornadoes in the US, and other corners of the world, too. These aren’t directed to Climate Change alone. A lot of interconnecting weather phenomena lock in together to create such a violent turn.

Not all can be blamed on adverse effects on Climate Change alone. We must ponder to our past, in order to read the lines in between for the future, so don’t fret yet!

How about the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle in the Central Pacific Basin and the ever-persistent La Niña episode of 2010-2012 season, that has wreaked havoc on global crops production, affecting world food supply, dislodged many industries, and destroyed infrastructures and a display of man’s vulnerability. All the more that we should be more concerned of are the irreplaceable destruction of the environment, induced by human activity and unrelenting abuses. There are so many things that we continually miss everyday.

We just have to be more sensitive to all these things around us. It is our life, yes, but a policy of “Bad-neighbor,” that creates problems to neighboring countries, where most advanced civilizations did to the less advanced, more inferior kind–the world class category per Capita.

In Asia, where the demand for more energy output  can’t be ignored. In the center of it all is China and India, where billionth population, increasingly growing markets, considered as untapped regions of revenues, untapped territories of wealth usher in the influx of overseas investments to a staggering pace, even inner Mongolia regions along the remotest “Tibetan Plateau,” has been wreaked by the Chinese companies, paved the way for human incursions in a very secluded far regions in the mountainous Tibet.

China could be the emerging giant with far greater resource to combat recession levels as with the United States, with a huge slump of jobs creation, political divisions and new wars with other erring nations in the Middle East, especially Nuclear Iran and the Pakistan-Afghanistan connection.

Most recently, the grappling for more fuel and resource-hungry China, thus the recent provocations in a highly tense drama, in high profile marine skirmishes along the disputed waters off Spratlys archipelago, and the West Philippine Sea, over the “Panatag Shoal,” internationally recognized as “Scarborough Shoal.”

Said spot was estimated to be at 139 nm (257 km), well-within the border of the 200-nm (370 km) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of my country, as defined under the United Nations Convention of the Law of Seas (UNCLOS), where Chinese interests are in gross violation of the international laws.

Still China managed to wrestle it out with other Southeast Asian neighbors, severely in March 24th of 1988 with Viet Nam, where sixty-four (64) of its light-armed maritime protection force paid with their lives, protecting what they assert their motherland territory over Spratlys archipelago–all for greed and power. What about the North Korean headache? Well, I need not reiterate on how huge these challenges have been so far. It should only frighten us all!

The tensions between nations grow larger by the day over the disputed seas continue today, hotter than the surface of the Sun in diplomatic sense I can see it through with the recent developments. This is where wars are made of, in search for untapped resource, ending up with provocations with other rather “peaceful nations,” and by such, end all peaceful coexistence, thus destroy the brotherhood of nations–an ongoing saga of greed, power of corrupt minds in the governments.

Considering that Asia is power-hungry, clamoring for more fuel source to respond in a growing pace of growth and unrivaled consumerism, the U.S.A, as the world’s second largest coal exporter, and consumer, gave rise to sending more resource to the emerging Asian markets that has almost tripled that of 2010 figures. Rapid growth and rising demand for energy was considered a boon for the industry.

Fig. 8.0 "Coal-Fired Power Plants (CFPPs) in the Philippines produce high cost electricity, a sharp contrast to USA, European and neighboring SEA countries. Image Courtesy: Skyscrapercity/Weatherguy Adonis."

Of all countries in Asia, China’s consumption for more fuel, to generate more wealth to its billions of people, according to studies, four (4) CFPPs go online in weeks-time after finished construction, that’s how large the market is in China alone. Environment regulation there are no less tactful, and with the demand for more of coal-intensive industries, China will singularly overrun the US market in the coming years in terms of consumption and wealth generation.

Environmental problems in China mounts and it cannot be ignored. As evidenced by smog-ridden skyline, before in Beijing, but not now. The emerging industry made cross-border emissions, affecting neighboring provinces and cities in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Eastern states, adding to more hazardous air pollution levels, to include Mercury emissions, CO2, NOx–two pollutants linked to smog-related illnesses, not to mention its huge input to global greenhouse gases trapped into the atmosphere.

Back in the U.S.A., Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson in a statement, “No community should bear the burden of another community’s polluters or be powerless to act against air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses.”

In consideration of our local situation, the Philippines, belong to the third world, yes it is true. What matters now are the ways of living in my country and the economy. Most recently, the environmental issues, to take note a few, are the seemingly fizzling environmental advocacies, regulators of health advocates in the wake of international taking-a-back attitude that has gripped the world’s largest and most dominant countries reason with so many internal conflicts, insurgency issues, where environmental advancement are being left out into the Sun’s UV-Rays, lying dry, almost dead by our standards.

If we are to deserve a better future, curbing King Coal is the answer if it would require a billionth steps, then so be it. Man should think wiser these days.

Sources: US Energy & Information Administration, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), UNESCO, Reuters, TIME.

 (Note: If you have queries, email me at amanzan@smartbro.net or through weatherguyadonis@theboplive.net)

02W/PAKHAR Weakens To Tropical Storm, Threatens To Make Landfall In Viet Nam On Sunday

By:  Weatherguy Adonis

Adonis S. Manzan

 

Once Formidable Storm Weakens

Iloilo City, Philippines, 31 March 2012, (0400Z)–Category 1 Typhoon no more.  Our tropical system, “02W/PAKHAR” was a Typhoon no more as the winds died down gradually weakening its core, and the intensity readings went down to Tropical Storm threshold this morning.  Winds near its center was about 75 km/hr (40 kt) and gusting to 111 km/hr (60 kt), with central pressure of 998 hPa.  Tropical Storm “02W/PAKHAR” was located near 9.6N-109.9E or approximately 376.3 km South-southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.  I am considering the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) scale measurement at the moment.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) however pegged the system to be slightly stronger that of the JMA measurement at 111 km/hr (60 kt) with higher gusts reaching 140 km/hr (75 kt), making it a “Strong Tropical Storm,” almost at “Category 1 Typhoon” threshold by scale.

At the onset, the the prevailing “Upper level winds” are consistently favourable for the system to maintain its strength, despite the variation of existence of some drier air mass coming from its Southwestern periphery and a building Subtropical Ridge (STR) that should steer the system generally Westwards later tonight before making land fall along the coast of Viet Nam later tomorrow, 01 April 2012 at about nightfall according to some Numerical models that I have been checking out from time to time.

Fig. 1.0 "Typhoon 02W/PAKHAR lost its steam as convective banding tries to consolidate. A building STR should steer it towards Viet Nam coast sometime Sunday evening. Image Credit: CIRA."

Nevertheless, the oceanographic conditions are in aide for a slow but steady intensification phase of Tropical Storm “02W/PAKHAR” as it continues to stay offshore, away from land mass, but its outer bands have already arrived in advance since yesterday so flooding should not be a question anymore.

Meteorological Agencies Scale Up 02W/PAKHAR’s Intensity

There might be some confusion around here as regards to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) definition of a “Tropical Storm” versus a full-pledge “Typhoon,” which the American models indicate, and in strong agreement with other interrelated Meteorological Agency across the Asia-Pacific Region.  By no means necessary, a “Tropical Storm” using the measurement scale of the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) based in Tokyo, Japan, under JMA’s operation, rap it up to between 62 km/hr (34 kt) and 88 km/hr (47 kt), and it all begins to come into mind that there are deep variations to this with that of a full-pledge “Typhoon,” that translates to a higher wind acceleration reaching above 118 km/hr (64 kt).

In the light of these, it clearly indicate a substantial difference with the interpretation of wind-average readings that uses a 10-minute wind average intervals.  The JMA uses this in terms of wind intensity sustained within the 10-minute period, as per World Meteorological Organization (WMO) regulation based in Geneva, Switzerland.

In most cases, this requirement are being observed by most of the weather agencies from around the world.  The 10-minute average we call it, points to a system that analyze the winds sustained within a Tropical Cyclone at a given time at a height of 10.0 m (33 ft), to which our state weather bureau, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) also utilizes in reaching for a consensus in the event of a Tropical Cyclone threatening the Philippines within its Philippine Area of Responsibility” (PAR).

Fig. 2.0 "An impression I have made using the Vis Sat Imagery over the Western Pacific as shown, the weakened circulation along the East China Sea with evident convective banding that is occurring in aide of the system. To the far right, huge thunderstorms spawned by a passing Front pushes the La Niña-Easterlies well into Eastern Philippines. Image Credit: Digital-typhoon."

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) based in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii Island, USA uses another methodology, the “Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale,”  now this is anchored on the actual wind speed acceleration averaged over a 1-minute period, at 10 m (33 ft) above the ground.

Fig. 3.0 "MLSP readings indicate the confined vorticity remains offshore, and stronger gust constrained along the Southern edge of Tropical Storm 02W/PAKHAR at the moment. Image Credit: CIRA."

One’s failure to comprehend these variations add to the growing confusion which agencies of the two should prevail.  I hope putting up this issue now give due understanding of the difference between the readings, even I to date tend to miss some of this, frankly speaking!

Will Tropical Storm 02W/PAKHAR Again Intensify?

The answer is a resounding yes, considering the existence of low shearing environment and the favourable “Sea Surface Temperature” (SST) across the East China Sea.  I am not using the word, West Philippine Sea, or a.k.a. South China Sea because the matter now is beyond our territorial seas (Chuckle).

Since the system has reached its peak so to speak, in the meteorological aspect, we call it “Diurnal Maximum,” as indicated by the JTWC in its 2100Z bulletin, wherein a certain Tropical Cyclone has reached its peak intensity for a 24-hour period.  This refers also on the temperature that occurs after midday which maximum heat can be obtained in a considerable time, and vis-a-vis, the minimum before the Sun hits the horizon early in the morning.

In addition to this, the various factors could also be attributed to change in relative humidity at a given time, the clouds that feed and wrap around the convective towering cloud tops or the anvil thunderstorms that give these Tropical Cyclone a finite source of moisture and adequate amount of heat, equivalent to energy.

Fig. 4.0 "A NOAA eTrap indicate the rainfall totals within a 24-hr period as the system persists at East China Sea. Image Credit: NOAA."

Talk about energy, the Sun and the heat radiated from the surface of the Sea can also affect a storm’s life, and oh, before I forget, the precipitation or the rains that rise and fall within the clouds, it’s called “Condensation” and the rate of “Evaporation.”  These are all essential to a Tropical system.  The stages that undergone feeds into a system like a conveyor belt, which I believe it could have definitive impact on the “Atmospheric Pressure,” that can only be found inside the core of the Tropical Cyclone.

Fig. 5.0 "I made this impression I got from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center through Rob Gutro's article at NASA Hurricane Page. I give credit to the efforts made by NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce. Thanks a million, guys!"

To what extent did our storm lose steam? We will find out later this afternoon if our discussion here of a gradual intensification phase holds water!  In the meantime,  I am signing off for more of these a bit later tonight.  Nonetheless, we’ll all keep a close eye on this one as it maintains its course, though stationary at times, it has been generating a lot of precipitation back here in the Philippines for quite some time now.

Also, my fellow “Kababayans” in flood-ravaged towns of Mindoro Occidental, Bicol Region and parts of Capiz nearest to my location should take a look into the upcoming thunderheads that hover above us.  Right now I have been observing large thunderstorm anvils shooting into the atmosphere sending rumbling thunder ahead of the thunderstorms that could come at any moment soon!

This has been your Weatherguy hailing from the Philippines, Mabuhay! =)

With data from NOAA, NASA, CIRA, JTWC, JMA, HKO, NRL Mry and Typhoon2000.ph

(Note: If you have queries, email me at amanzan@smartbro.net or through–>weatherguyadonis@theboplive.net)