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13 09, 2018

Strongest Storm of 2018: Mangkhut heading for Philippines

Issued Thursday 9AM September 13th 2018. While all eyes are firmly watching Florence, Super Typhoon Mangkhut has entered a league of its own, becoming the strongest, most powerful and mesmerising tropical storm of 2018 as it heads for the Philippines and Southern China! Above image via RAMMB / CIRA.

 

The Western Pacific is notorious for producing mammoth typhoons and it looks like Super Typhoon Mangkhut will go down in history as one of those systems. Mangkhut is currently situated (at the time of this post) East of the Philippines with its outer bands about 18-24hrs away from impacting the Eastern Coastal regions of the Philippines. Mangkhut has been in a VERY favourable environment for VERY long time.. ever since it ran over Guam as a low end Typhoon in fact. The incredibly warm sea surface temperatures of 30ºc+, minimal vertical wind shear and an anticyclone overhead have allowed the system to ventilate perfectly and intensify into a beast with 155kt sustained winds (285km/h) and wind gusts to 190kts (350km/h). To put that into perspective, thats about 20% stronger than Yasi and a similar strength to Cyclone Winston which devastated Fiji and was rated #1 for the Southern Hemisphere all-time. 

JTWC Official Forecast Track as of Thursday morning AEST

 

 

Mangkhut is forecast by ALL global models to veer in a North Westerly direction in the next 18-30 hours and is LIKELY to make a landfall over the Northern tip of the Philippines. The current projected track places the system directly over the city of Tuguegarao which was nearly 100% damaged by Typhoon Lawin back in 2016. The catastrophically destructive winds are expected to be the main threat and its almost certain that if forecasts prevail and winds of 330km/h+ impact land areas, then ALL trees, ALL powerlines and the majority of building structures will be damaged or destroyed. This will cut roads and limit assistance greatly. Torrential rainfall is also likely and this could lead to landslides, mudslides and extensive flooding across the region which may isolated damaged communities for days. A powerful storm surge is also likely across the Northern Philippines and Luzon Strait Islands which may lead to significant beach erosion, significant beach flooding including complete building inundation. 

Forecast 5 day rainfall via Windy showing 300mm+ in white, 200mm+ in pink

 

 

After the Philippines are impacted, the system is expected to maintain powerful characteristics (probably not quite Super Typhoon strength though) as it enters the South China Sea. Models are in general agreement for now, that the system is expected to either directly hit Hong Kong or make a landfall between Hong Kong and the Island of Hainan, with winds in excess of 165km/h and further torrential rainfall likely.

Forecast positioning for Mangkhut on Sunday night (AEST) via Windy, showing the system between the Island of Hainan and the City of Hong Kong

 

12 09, 2018

Deadly Hurricane Florence Heading For United States

Issued Wednesday 9AM September 2018. Major Hurricane Florence is now likely to make a U.S landfall on Friday over North Carolina as a very powerful and catastrophic, life-threatening system. Above image via RAMMB / CIRA.

 

 

The last 24-36 hours for Florence has quickly shaped up into a worst case scenario situation for North Carolina and to a degree, South Carolina and the Virginia’s as well. Florence has undergone RAPID intensification after entering a near-perfect environment and quickly went from a Category 1 system to a strong Category 4 major hurricane in a matter of hours. Since then, Florence has remained in a favourable environment and is likely to do so until it makes landfall on Friday over North Carolina as either a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. Furthermore with the addition of EXTREME flooding and a life-threatening storm surge both being LIKELY, Florence is showing every sign of being an unprecedented, catastrophic and potentially even deadly disaster.

 

National Hurricane Center official forecast track map for Hurricane Florence showing a North Carolina landfall on Friday

 

 

Models have been juggling the landfall time around a little bit, but most are in agreement now for a Friday morning or early afternoon landfall over the Southern / Central Coastal North Carolina or extreme Northern Coastal parts of South Carolina (between Myrtle Beach and Morehead City). One of the big underlying problems with Florence which will only exacerbate the risk potential, is a building of the ridge to the West This build will mean Florence is LIKELY to slow down or even stall right on the Coast as its making landfall. This has lead to a dramatic increase in rainfall potential with all models going for 500mm+ over the North Carolina Coast and many going for isolated falls of 800-1000mm. This rainfall is expected to fall on an already saturated ground after heavy rain in recent weeks leading to catastrophic, life threatening flooding. This flooding not only has the potential to cause a massive risk to human life but could isolate communities for weeks and cause further problems once food and fresh water begin to run out.

 

Forecast Rainfall via EC Model (Windy) which is matching the National Hurricane Center for large areas of 500mm+ (white shading) and isolated falls of 800mm+

 

Outside of the rainfall, a life threatening storm surge is LIKELY across Coastal parts of North Carolina and through the Outer Banks. One promising sign is if the system does slow down on the Coast, then land interaction will quickly weaken it and limit the surge potential, regardless… models are going for a 12-15ft storm surge in some areas which would be second all-time to Hurricane Hazel in 1954 for the area and could change the geographic landscape of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The wind threat is likely to be catastrophic too, with Florence LIKELY to become the strongest hurricane to make landfall over North Carolina. Winds in excess of 250km/h are likely to significantly damage or destroy buildings, uproot large trees and down powerlines which could severely limit assistance in the aftermath of the system as emergency crews battle debris, lack of communications and  flooding to assist people.

Historically, systems even half the strength of Florence have been deadly to the region. Historically systems with half the rainfall of Florence have caused issues for up to a week anyway… History is screaming this won’t be pretty. People NEED to adhere to the evacuation alerts and seek safe ground NOW!

 

Storm Surge Warning (magenta), Storm Storm Watch (pink) for North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina via NHC

 

11 09, 2018

Olivia Eyeing Off Hawaii

Issued Tuesday September 11th 2018. Hurricane Olivia is also posing a threat in the Central Pacific as it bares down on Hawaii, adding to what has been a chaotic calendar year for the small islands. Above image – Simulated satellite imagery for Wednesday as Olivia makes a landfall over Hawaii.

 

Hurricane Olivia has definitely been ignored given the talk around other systems. Olivia though has been a steady system after it developed West of Mexico last week and rapidly developed into a Major Category 3 Hurricane. The system has then undergone a very slow and gradual weakening process whilst maintaining a West to North West track towards Hawaii. For some time now, models have been very stubborn with a landfall directly over the Hawaiian islands, and that stubbornness seems like its going to be accurate as most models including the official tracking by the National Hurricane Center place Olivia directly over the main islands during Wednesday morning local time.

Forecast winds via the US NAM model showing Olivia making a landfall over Hawaii on Wednesday morning. Image via Windy

 

Thankfully, what is now (at the time of this post) Hurricane Olivia, will weaken back to Tropical Storm strength due to a combination of a slightly unfavourable environment and geographic terrain. The system will pose a threat for damaging winds, but the main threat is expected to come from the rainfall where models are indicating falls of up to 100mm over the space of a 24hr period seeming likely for isolated areas. It doesn’t seem like much but locally heavier falls are possible courtesy of orographic lifting, and the fact its falling in a short period of time may lead to localised flash flooding and some land slips.

After Hawaii, Olivia will continue West and weaken into nothing by the weekend. 

Official Forecast Track for Olivia via the National Hurricane Center

 

10 09, 2018

Mangkhut To Become Violent Super Typhoon

Issued 3PM Monday, September 10th, 2018. While the Atlantic does its thing in the peak of Hurricane season… the Western Pacific is doing its thing as well by producing what could end up being the strongest tropical system of 2018! Above image: Simulated Satellite imagery via Tropicaltidbits / HWRF model of Mangkhut prior to peak intensity!

 

 

Typhoon Mangkhut is currently situated near / over Guam and the surrounding islands. The system is producing damaging to locally destructive winds and torrential rainfall, something these islands see all too often during this time of year as many typhoons develop in the area before moving West and North West.

Models are showing increasingly concerning prospects for Mangkhut. All models are showing signs that this system will likely not only become a Super Typhoon (Category 5 typhoon) but a very violent one at that. What makes matters worse, is that regardless of its final track, Mangkhut is LIKELY to directly hit “somewhere”. That may seem like a bit of a loose statement, but even with track variance and intensity fluctuations… all models are placing Mangkhut on a general Westerly track. This will allow the system to do one of the following: directly cross the Northern Philippines, directly hit Taiwan or split both Taiwan and the Philippines and directly hit Southern China. All 3 scenarios unfortunately place the system over very highly populated areas.

 

EC Model showing Mangkhut nearing the Northern Philippines Coast as a strong Category 5 system. White colouring shows wind speeds in excess of 300km/h. Image via Windy.

 

 

While the final track will still be questionable until 72hrs out from “landfall”, one thing seems locked and thats Mangkhut becoming a violent Category 5 super typhoon with models showing the pressure dropping to below 910hpa on several models and the wind gusts reaching in excess of 300km/h on nearly all models as well. The HWRF model which has fairly strong accuracy with these systems, is being one of the more aggressive models and has Mangkhut dropping to 902hpa and max winds of 208kts which is 385km/h (as an example). All other models are showing pressure dropping to 907-914hpa and winds of 300-330km/h. The size of the system looks like to produce flooding rainfall to Eastern Taiwan, however if the system moves closer to Taiwan then these rainfall totals are likely to increase. A very dangerous storm surge is also possible for any land areas near the eventual landfall, while wind speeds will likely cause excessive devastation in the form of downed trees, loss of power, infrastructure failure. Further details will be posted once a more likely track is determined along with further more specific impacts.

 

Current track map as of Monday afternoon, September 10th 2018 via the JTWC.

 

10 09, 2018

Hurricane Florence To Pose A Major Threat to the United States

Issued 1:30PM Monday, September 10th, 2018. What was once dubbed a fish storm could now become one of the talking points of the 2018 weather calendar as Hurricane Florence re-intensifies en route to the United States East Coast. Above image via Tropicaltidbits / HWRF model showing the simulated rainbow satellite imagery of Florence at peak intensity less than 24hrs prior to landfall later in the week.

 

 

A week ago, Florence was merely a convective blob near Africa and at a reasonable high latitude compared to normal tropical systems developing in that area, models were showing Florence to be nothing but an appealing fish storm. What is a fish storm? its a term used by weather enthusiasts and chasers alike, for a tropical system that will only impact fish. These systems are ones that don’t impact land and spend their entire life cycle over open water. Usually, the Indian, Eastern and Central Pacific and Atlantic Oceans see these systems due to their vast open waters with minimal land masses.

 

 

However, the European model quickly showed interest in Florence making an unprecedented landfall over the Eastern US. Why is it unprecedented? because no system at such a high latitude had remained on a Westerly track and made a landfall over the U.S, they’ve always veered or turned North. Since then, the Euro model remained stubborn with its prediction and now all other heavyweight models have slowly trended towards the Euro’s expectations.

 

Forecast Tropical Storm Wind Probability via the National Hurricane Center for Florence

 

 

Over the next 24hrs, Florence is expected to enter a VERY favourable environment with negligible vertical wind shear, an anticyclone will form aloft and sea surface temperatures are expected to remain at 29-31ºc which is well above the thresholds required for tropical system sustainability. Florence is highly likely to reach Category 4 strength and there is no reason why Category 5 strength cant be reached. Models are also honing in on the system making a landfall over either South Carolina or North Carolina (North has been the general trend of the last 24hrs) which would make this the second system EVER to make a landfall as a Category 4+ strength over this area, adding to the already meteorologically impressive run its making. While its impossible so far out to determine specific threats… flooding rain, destructive to very destructive winds and a dangerous storm surge are all likely. As the system nears landfall later in the week, more specific areas for various threats will be determined (i.e. where the heaviest rain will fall, strongest storm surge, most violent winds). Further details will be posted over the coming days when tracks and threats are more honed in.

 

Forecast Global Tracking for Florence via Tropicaltidbits

 

10 09, 2018

Large Parts Of NSW & Northern VIC To Cop Unseasonable Heat!

Issued Monday, September 10th 2018. Large parts of NSW and even Northern VIC are about to experience late Spring / early Summer-like heat over the course of the next week. Above image via BSCH / OCF showing Maximums for Tuesday across NSW and VIC.

 

Over the next week, a series of heat troughs triggered assisted by a low pressure system over Northern WA are expected to combine with a warming air mass over NSW and Northern VIC along with back to back high pressure regions which will likely produce widespread dry air aloft. This combination is expected to lead to widespread abnormal heat across Inland NSW which will eventually reach the Coast, as well as across Northern VIC.

 

The week should be broken up into 2, Monday to Wednesday, which is expected to see large parts of Inland and Northern NSW bake in what is technically classed as a low end heatwave due to maximums pushing 5-8ºc above average for this time of year for at least 3 days in a row, as well as Northern VIC which could see maximums surge into the low 30’s and up to 14ºc above average for some areas. The second part of the week, Thursday to Sunday and possibly longer, is expected to see the heat leave VIC as the second high moving over the region draws in a more onshore flow rather than a hot North West breeze, but the heat is likely to remain over Northern NSW where temperatures could push even higher, as well as Coastal areas North of about Sydney. Inland parts of the Hunter and Mid North Coast are likely to see temperatures into the high 20’s and possibly even low 30’s. 

Forecast maximums for Saturday across NSW and VIC showing continued heat remaining over Northern NSW and parts of Eastern NSW. Image via BSCH / OCF

 

While no records are expected to be broken, this heat is expected to combine with no rainfall across Northern VIC or Inland NSW and very little rainfall over Eastern NSW meaning its an added blow to drought stricken areas of both States who are already doing it extremely tough.

Weekly rainfall forecast via HSC Premium Membership for NSW and VIC showing little to no rainfall across the majority of both States.

 

10 09, 2018

Unseasonable Heat To Sweep Inland QLD This Week

Issued Monday, September 10th 2018. In an already bad situation across large parts of QLD, particularly Inland regions, farmers are looking at yet another blow with a prolonged period of excessively warm and dry conditions about to sweep through Inland QLD. Above image – Maximum temperatures for Friday via BSCH / OCF.

 

A slow moving trough is forecast to develop across Southern Inland, South West and Western QLD during this week and combine with a warming air mass which is covering large parts of the State. Back to back high pressure systems and ridges are expected to also play a role in keeping conditions very dry and this overall combination is set to see widespread fine and sunny conditions spread across large parts of the State along with temperatures skyrocketing (for this time of year) over Inland areas.

QLD Weekly Rainfall forecast from Monday, September 10th to Sunday September 16th via Higgins Storm Chasing premium membership.

 

The greatest temperature anomalies are expected to lie over Southern Inland QLD. Places like Charleville, St George, Roma and surround are likely to see 4, 5 maybe even 6 days in a row above 30ºc which for this time of year is 4-6ºc above average and by definition that would class it as a weak or low-end heatwave. Across Central Inland and Western QLD, temperatures are likely to push above 30ºc all week and maybe even nudge 35ºc in some places on isolated days. Due to higher September averages occurring over these areas, it wouldn’t be a heatwave, but its still above average heat and combining that with no rainfall whatsoever, its an added back stab for farmers in these areas. 

While the heat will technically reach the Coast, its expected to weaken before it does. Above average temperatures are likely over Coastal parts of QLD, but an onshore flow should limit the intensity of the heat.

Temperature anomaly for Friday showing above average temperatures in warm colours (yellow / orange). Temperatures of up to 8ºc above average are expected over Southern Inland QLD. Image via weather.us

 

 

29 08, 2018

Late Winter Heat to sweep QLD

Issued Wednesday August 29th 2018. Its not abnormal for Queenslanders to experience late Winter heat in any given year, with each August recording at least 1 or 2, sometimes more days, of summer-like heat. Winter in 2018 is expected to go out hot with temperatures into the low to mid 30’s across large parts of the State.

 

A surface trough is expected to move across the State during Thursday and Friday, clearing the Coast on Saturday. This trough is expected to direct very warm North to North Westerly winds ahead of it and along it, combining that with dry and much warmer than normal air aloft to produce a short burst of roasting heat (for Winter standards).

Forecast Maximums via BSCH / OCF for Thursday across QLD

 

On Thursday the focus is expected to be over Western QLD. Birdsville is heading for 34ºc (10 above average), Mt Isa 33ºc (6ºc above average). On Friday, large parts of Inland QLD are expected to feel the heat with Longreach and Winton going for 34ºc, Roma 31ºc, Charleville 30ºc. Even parts of the South East Coast are expected to nudge 30ºc which will generally be 6-11ºc above average for most areas. By Saturday, the heat will be focused over the North and Eastern districts with further maximums in the low to mid 30’s, especially across Central QLD and the Peninsula. Maximums over the Peninsula are forecast to even nudge 40ºc during the weekend which is certainly much earlier than normal for such temperatures to be observed.

Forecast Maximums via BSCH / OCF for Friday across QLD

 

 

Despite the “chance” of some storms over Southern and South East QLD during this run of heat, and “some” light rain being possible.. the biggest threat will actually be raised dust as strong winds both ahead of and behind the trough kick up loose dust and allow it to travel. This will be most likely over South West and Southern Inland QLD.

Dust Mass via EC / Windy showing increased dust over South West QLD early on Friday moving East.

 

16 08, 2018

Fire Danger Rating Greatly Increasing Thursday to Monday!

Issued Thursday, August 16th 2018. South East QLD in particular, as well as large parts of Southern & Central Inland QLD are expected to be on high alert over the next several days for a significant increase in fire danger potential. Above image – Maximums for Saturday via OCF

As of Thursday midday, the Rural Fire Service in QLD has already issued a TOTAL FIRE BAN for the Ipswich, Somerset, Lockyer, Logan, Scenic Rim and Gold Coast regions, while their own mapping is indicating very high fire danger potential cross the South East Coast each day until Monday as well as spreading further Inland and North on some days.

Fire Danger Rating via the Rural Fire Service in QLD for the next several days. Some days may increase to Severe Threats.

Fire Danger Rating via the Rural Fire Service in QLD for the next several days. Some days may increase to Severe Threats.

The cause for all of this is a tongue of warm air aloft which is parked over South East QLD at the moment. This air is combining with VERY dry winds from the West and eventually South West which is pushing the temperature WELL ABOVE average (in some cases up to 10ºc above average), with maximums in the high 20’s and even low 30’s. Winds are also expected to increase in strength over the weekend, gusting frequently above 40km/h and in some cases 60km/h over the South East Coast and Darling Downs. 

OCF Forecast Maximums via BSCH / OCF for Friday

OCF Forecast Maximums via BSCH / OCF for Friday

"Wind

This combination in normal circumstances would be enough for an increased fire threat, however over the past week, clear skies and light winds have allowed morning temperatures to plummet across the South East Coast, Granite Belt and Darling Downs leading to pockets and sometimes widespread frost which has further killed off vegetation and made it drier than dry. Thus the next several days across large parts of Southern and Central QLD are expected to be quite volatile for fire potential. It won’t be out of the question either for fire danger rating’s to increase over Saturday and Sunday to “SEVERE” levels over the South East Coast and/or Darling Downs given the temperatures and winds in place.

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2 08, 2018

Queensland Drought: The miserable tale of 2 seasons

When looking at Queensland’s half yearly rainfall, its so easy to explain. Everything just makes sense and fits into place… but at the same time, its amazing a slight change can alter reality so drastically. During this detailed write up, the goal is to not only explain why some areas have the rainfall anomalies that they do, but also explain how this has not only sped up or worsened the ongoing drought but also created a new drought for other areas. 

 

Starting in the North… The majority of the Peninsula is below average and this can be solely attributed to a lack of monsoonal activity during the peak of the Cyclone season. The majority of monsoon troughs stayed North of the Peninsula and over the Northern Gulf / Coral Sea, this ultimately reduced monsoon rain but also thunderstorm activity. Ironically Mornington Island was well above average and this is courtesy of Cyclone Nora which produced very minimal rainfall over the Western Peninsula, but camped over the Southern Gulf leading to excessive rainfall across numerous days through the Gulf Islands. 

Moving into the only real above average area in Queensland, Far North QLD. From about Ingham to Cooktown, Inland to just beyond the Ranges… this area benefited from countless small scale lows and monsoonal flow generated from an extensive period during late February and March. South Johnstone, near Tully, is sitting at 4053mm for the first 6 months of 2018, a massive 1333mm above average. March alone generated more than 2300mm of rain for the region! Nearby Cairns has had more than 2100mm for 2018 so far and Tully even more.

As you move down the Coast though you can see what happens under the influence of a failed wet season. Mackay has the greatest deficiency in QLD, sitting over 600mm below average. Normally 1307mm will fall in the first 6 months of any given year, however 2018 has generated just 705mm. Some people may think thats still okay, its 700mm… however the area is a large part of the sugar cane industry, an industry that NEEDS average or above average rainfall, any less and not only is the current harvest weak, but future harvests suffer too. Given future rainfall forecasts and current deficiencies, Mackay could be on the brink of their own drought which would be detrimental to the sugar cane industry. Further South over the Capricornia and Wide Bay… its bad also, with most areas 150-300mm below average.

 

In South East QLD, its amazing what a good or bad storm season can do. Most of the area is below average, however Greater Brisbane and Ipswich sit only fractionally below, while the Scenic Rim is mostly on average. This perfectly illustrates how storms acted all season, with most storm days featuring the Scenic Rim and Greater Brisbane, but rarely the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast which sit well below average. 

Then there is Inland QLD, the area has copped failed wet seasons for years, a failed 2017-18 storm season and a mind blowing hot Summer. The only exceptions to this are the Far North West where parts of the region saw flooding rainfall in March (but thats the only rain all year) and the Central Highlands where some slightly more frequent storm activity helped keep things ticking along. Southern Inland and South West QLD have seen nothing – storms were too isolated, the winter fronts havent reached QLD and if they have… they’ve been dry. The heatwaves made any rainfall rapidly dry up. 

 

Its easy to see how more than 60% of QLD is under the effects of a bad drought, however the worrying thing is… with the current deficiencies in some non-drought regions and the futuristic rainfall outlooks, that percentage is no doubt bound to rise!

QLD Rainfall Deficiency