The Intersection

Is That How It Will End?

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For the first time (at least that I’ve noticed), the Joint Typhoon Warning Center makes it explicit–Supertyphoon Ioke may ultimately hit Japan. Granted, it will have weakened by then–but still. Here’s how they put it:

IN THE EXTENDED FORECAST FROM TAU 72 TO TAU 120 STY 01C WILL CONTINUE TO TRACK NORTHWESTWARD AND WILL SLOWLY WEAKEN DUE TO ITS TRACK INTO COOLER SSTS. AN INCREASE IN VERTICAL WIND SHEAR WILL ALSO HELP TO WEAKEN THE SYSTEM THROUGH TAU 120. A SLIGHT POLEWARD DRIFT IS EXPECTED BETWEEN TAU 96 AND TAU 120 AS AN APPROACHING MIDLATITUDE TROUGH STARTS TO WEAKEN THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE. AVAILABLE GUIDANCE INDICATES THAT EVEN AS THE RIDGE BEGINS
TO WEAKEN, THE SYSTEM WILL STILL CONTINUE TO TRACK TOWARDS THE NORTHERN PORTION OF JAPAN.

How many tropical cyclones have started out around Hawaii and gone on to hit Japan? Not many, I would imagine.

Comments

  1. #1 Johann Klaassen
    August 31, 2006

    The projected path for this storm is aimed for the heart of downtown Tokyo. The best current estimate for the population of the Tokyo metro area is about 35 million people. Of course, a lot can happen in the week before the storm gets close to Japan …

  2. #2 llewelly
    August 31, 2006

    If you look at this forecast you’ll see that at the farthest out point on the forecast, the error cone is almost as wide as Honshu is long. Skill at those forecast distances is very, very low. And Tokyo is at about 24 hours beyond that point. As of this writing, even with current forecast path apparently pointing in Tokyo’s direction, the actual probability of a Tokyo-affecting landfall is low. Landfall (anywhere in Japan) is not guaranteed; it is normal for typhoons in that area to curve northward, and not strike Japan. Additionally, weakening is forecast; Ioke is expected to be down to 105 kts by sept 05, 18Z. If it makes landfall it will likely be weaker still. The potential for disaster is real, but small, I guess.

  3. #3 Janne
    August 31, 2006

    Typhoons are quite common here; we had three go past last year where I live in central Japan, and places like Okinawa get hit more or less constantly. They normally don’t do that much damage – last year by far the most damage was one typhoon that just managed to wind itself to Hokkaido in the north before disintegrating, and that was of course because Hokkaido normally don’t get typhoons and so weren’t prepared for it.

    What I try to say is that the severity is as much – or more – a function of preparedness and familiarity as it is of windspeed or rainfall, and in a country where it is a common occurrence the risk is greatly reduced. A typhoon hitting Tokyo is usually not that big a deal – you’ll get some communication disruptions, perhaps a couple of homes that collapsed, and the ever-inevitable Darwin-award candidate that decides that the perfect time to move his boat is a few hours before a typhoon makes landfall.

    Besides, the Japanese metereological agency has a probable-path cone that covers all of Japan and south all the way down towards Indonesia. Worrying about it hitting a major urban center is a bit premature.

  4. #4 Jeremy
    September 1, 2006

    I live an hour by train from Tokyo Station. Gonna be a fun time, especially if I have to go to work (I commute by bicycle). Maybe I’ll get to see what a ‘typhoon holiday’ is all about.

    Beyond that, I have to second Janne. I’ve been here a couple of years and seen several typhoons. Beyond a few mudslides in rural areas, things getting blown over (fun to see a jumble of bikes, not fun when yours is somewhere in there), and that sort of thing, most buildings are constructed strong-enough to withstand the weakened typhoons that hit.

  5. #5 Chris Mooney
    September 1, 2006

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I didn’t mean to suggest that some mega cataclysm was on the offing. If Ioke hits Japan it will have weakened considerably by that point in time. And I have little doubt that Japan is much better prepared for typhoons than we are in the U.S. for our hurricanes.

    I merely meant to say, wouldn’t it be pretty stunning if this storm, which began near Hawaii, which formed in the Central Pacific, made this trip all the way to hit Japan? Eyeballing it on Google maps suggests that’s about 6000-7000 kilometers. A direct flight from Honolulu to Tokyo is about 3,831 miles….

  6. #6 llewelly
    September 1, 2006

    Is That How It Will End?

    I didn’t mean to suggest that some mega cataclysm was on the offing.

    Er … it’s very difficult to read your title any other way.

  7. #7 Chris Mooney
    September 1, 2006

    Nonsense, “it” refers to the already lengthy saga of Hurricane/Typhoon Ioke, what else could it possibly refer to?

  8. #8 Rootless Cosmopolitan
    September 2, 2006

    Reaching Indonesia is unlikely as the country is the “quiet zone” along the equator. Same reason that Singapore doesn’t get hit. Now if it only hits Hong Kong on a weekday and so gives me an extra holiday….

  9. #9 George
    September 2, 2006

    Latest Navy model runs have Ioke recurving just offshore of Japan and going extratropical off the Kurile Islands. There is a strong short-wave trough forecast to push over Japan at 18Z Tuesday 05 Sept., steering Ioke away from Japan. Sheer is low in the model runs over the next 84 hours.

    Ioke has just gone through an eyewall replacement cycle which has caused weakening. Lower oceanic heat content north of 18N is probably having an effect on the weakening of Ioke. Ioke crossed over several cold eddies as it moved past 18N. However, the sea surface temperatures and heat content along the forecast track to Japan are high enough to support a category 3 or 4 typhoon. This is a very large storm so it could cause more damage than normal if it strikes Japan because it could produce a large storm surge.

    Ioke has been exceptional in its intensity and duration. It is one more bit of evidence supporting the theory that global warming is increasing tropical storm duration and intensity. The theory is rooted in basic thermodynamics. It has been explained in easy to understand terms by MIT’s Kerry Emanuel. Although one storm proves nothing, in my opinion, we are seeing the consequences of global warming.

  10. #10 Chris Mooney
    September 2, 2006

    George, a quick clarification: What seems to have been exceptional about Ioke has been the *duration of its intensity*, not its “intensity and duration.” There have been storms more intense, and there have been storms that have lasted longer, but how many have been so intense for so long?

    And of course, this does dovetail with Kerry Emanuel’s work–not because one storm proves the influence of global warming, but rather because Ioke is the kind of storm you would expect to see more of if Emanuel’s work is right.

  11. #11 larkinsjapn
    September 2, 2006

    Its a big one, one island has been evacuated, its right in the center of the storms path. The third hurricane to cross the international date line and be renamed Typhoon in this decade.
    The newspapers are calling it similar to Katrina! So your not too far of with the title of your article. I have lived here 17 years Typoons kill the unprepared, and the Japanese goverment takes them seriously.

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