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Monday, July 7, 2014

Super Typhoon Heading For Japan

Not a movie, not a bad made-for-TV drama, but rather a real typhoon - a super typhoon - has gathered strength and with sustained winds of over 250-kilometers per hour (155-miles per hour) is heading for Japan coming up from the south west.

As you can see from the image above, the super typhoon known as Neoguri is expected to move between the Ryukyu Islands of Miyako Jima and Okinawa on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, local time, with Okinawa expecting to be hit hard with heavy rains and wins as high as 160-kph (100-mph) - with wind gusts up to 210-kph (130-mph).

A storm surge causing extreme flooding is expected over the Ryukyu Islands - in excess of six-meters (20-feet).

It's weather, so everything is predictable up to a point, but Neoguri is expected to make landfall on Kyushu Island on Wednesday night. It is expected to lose its 'super-typhoon' status by this time, but it is still supposed to be a wicked typhoon.

As with all storms, they tend to lose their ferociousness as it travels over land, but it's still going to be a nasty one, with lots of rainfall and strong winds, flooding and storm surge.

The main island of Honshu will see storming rain and the possibility of flooding, with the mountain areas getting the heavier rainfall accumulations.

By Thursday or Friday, even if the typhoon veers east as is expected (see image immediately above), the large northern island of Hokkaido should also expect rain and flooding thanks to Neoguri and a corresponding cold front expected in the area.

Folks in Tokyo - it's a heavy rain storm, but they will avoid the worst of the storm.

As for who gets to name the storms, once a storm reaches Tropical Storm intensity - and with the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), it is based on the average wind speed measured over 10-minute intervals), the RSMC Tokyo (Regional Specialized Meteorological Center) gets to do that.

The English word typhoon originates from the Japanese word (台風, pronounced taifū).

There is some discrepancy on just what defines a storm as a super-typhoon.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency:
  • Tropical Depression: wind speeds not exceeding 33-knots (38-mph; 61-kph);
  • Tropical Storm: sustained wind speeds exceed 34-knots (39-mph; 63-kph);
  • Severe Tropical Storm: sustained wind speeds of 48-knots (55-mph; 89-kph);
  • Typhoon: sustained winds reach wind speeds of 64-knots (74-mph; 119-kph).

This is actually the highest level in the JMA scale, but...

The Hong Kong Observatory began, in 2009, to sub-divide the typhoons into three classifications:
  • Typhoon: sustained wind speed of 64- to 79-knots (73- to 119-mph; 118- to 149-kph);
  • Severe Typhoon: sustained wind speeds of at least 80-knots (92-mph; 150-kph);
  • Super Typhoon: sustained wind speeds of at least 100-knots (120-mph; 190-kph).

For you Yankee Doodle Dandies out there, the United States' Joint Typhoon Warning Center unofficially classifies a typhoon with wind speeds of at least 130-knots (150-mph; 241-kph) — the equivalent of a strong Category 4 storm in the Saffir-Simpson scale—as a Super Typhoon - BUT, keep in mind that the JTWC makes its definitions based on a sustained wind speed average of a one-minute interval, JMA does 10-minute intervals.

Whatever the case, the Neoguri typhoon is going to be heavy.

Good luck, everyone.

Andrew Joseph

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