Filipino supertyphon Rai “beat all expectations” – forecaster


The rapid escalation that turned this week’s Typhoon Rai into the most severe storm to hit the Philippines this year has exceeded all expectations, forecasters said, killing nearly 400 people https://www.reuters.com / world / asia-pacific / philippine-death -toll-typhoon-rai-climbs-208-police-2021-12-20 and nearly a million displaced.

While it is not clear exactly how global warming is affecting the intensification of these storms, the United Nations climate change agency has found that it is “likely that the frequency of rapidly intensifying events has increased. over the past four decades “as temperatures rise. Before the Rai underwent a rapid intensification process, forecasters first warned of a storm that could cause “considerable damage”, with winds of up to 165 kilometers (103 miles) per hour.

“But the situation changed very quickly,” Nikos Peñaranda, a forecaster who studies thunderstorms at the Philippines’ national meteorological office, said on Tuesday. “Our models were unable to predict how the storm intensified, and it exceeded all of our forecasts.” During rapidly intensifying storms, warm ocean water and different wind speeds near the storm eye act as fuel to turn it into a more serious event. In Rai’s case, the storm turned into a Category 5 supertyphon, with speeds similar to those of an airliner starting to take off from the ground.

When it made landfall, winds of up to 210 km / h uprooted coconut palms, tore utility poles and threw sheets of corrugated iron and wood into the air. A lack of real-time data and case studies of similar storms in the region made it difficult for forecasters to predict how intensely Rai, or Odette as the storm is locally known, would intensify, Peñaranda said.

“The challenge of predicting rapidly escalating events is simply that the speed at which this occurs, often within hours, leaves less time for mobilization and evacuations for disaster risk reduction,” said said Clare Nullis, media manager specializing in climate change at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm, experienced a similar intensification in the Gulf of Mexico hours before hitting the US state of Louisiana https://graphics.reuters.com/STORM-IDA/LANDFALL / lgvdwwgjwpo in August.

Ocean temperatures near the surface and at depths of up to 200 meters in this region are rising about three times faster than the global average, according to the WMO, making it fertile ground for more intense storms and less predictable. Over the past three decades, the Philippines has recorded at least 205 tropical cyclones, the highest of any Asian country, according to EM-DAT, a publicly accessible disaster database operated by the University of Leuven. Almost every one of them has claimed lives and caused millions of dollars in damage.

By comparison, China, the second worst affected country, saw 139, and Bangladesh, also prone to storms, saw 42 ($ 1 = 49.9300 Philippine pesos) (Additional report by Neil Jerome Morales at Manila; edited by Kenneth Maxwell)

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