Credit:Nasa Earth Observatory

Typhoon Hagibis stuns scientists with size

Som studies suggest an increase of tropical cyclone intensify because of climate change : WMO

This afternoon, (1:05 p.m. Japan Time), Hagibis has been spinning toward the north-northwest over the western Pacific Ocean, with the category downgraded to 4 on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale after its wicked-fast intensification earlier in the week from tropical storm to category 5 storm.

As it is approaching Japan, its size has stunned the scientists as Typhoon Hagibis has now spanned 1,400 kilometers, compared with the size of 1, 300-km long Honshu, Japan’s largest and most populated island, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory.

As its outer cloud bands neared Japan, captured yesterday, its sustained winds were 210 kilometers (130 miles) per hour. That made it a category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.

Forecasts call for Hagibis to make landfall near the central part of Honshu over the weekend and then spin northeast up the island.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned of heavy rain, high waves, and storm surge in some coastal areas. Transportation has already been affected as flights were canceled and train service suspended.

According to NASA’s Short-term Prediction Research and Transition Center (SPoRT) team at Marshall Space Flight Center, the storm was not always so wide.

On October 8, Hagibis was rapidly intensifying, so its eye was much smaller too. The team’s Patrick Duran noted that such tiny “pin-hole” eyes are usually seen in very intense tropical cyclones.

“The most unique thing about this typhoon is how rapidly it intensified to super typhoon strength early in its life,” Duran said. “We don’t have enough observations of typhoons to know how common such a rapid intensification event actually is, but we do know that this is one of the most rapid intensifications we have observed.”

The next day, the storm’s rapid intensification was interrupted by an “eyewall replacement cycle,” in which a new outer eye replaced the original inner eye. As the new eyewall weakens the old eyewall, intensification usually slows down.

“Even though the eyewall replacement cycle decreased the storm’s maximum wind speed, it also caused the winds to spread out over a larger area,” Duran said. “That means that a broader region could experience destructive winds as the storm approaches land.”

Even after Hagibis moves away from land and people, scientists will likely continue to study the storm to learn more about its evolution.

For example, they already noticed interesting behavior during the eyewall replacement cycle, in which the old eyewall was orbiting around the inner boundary of the new eyewall.

“This phenomenon has been seen in some previous storms, but it’s a beautiful example of how complex the physics of eyewall replacements are,” Duran said. “Understanding how these processes work is a very important part of improving tropical cyclone intensity forecasting.”

Other climate scientists, meanwhile, have called for more concerted disaster risk management following increasing societal impacts as a result of sea level rise, more extreme weather and population shifts.

In Tokyo, where Hagibis is approaching, there was the High-level Dialogues on Tropical Cyclones, hosted by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) to commemorate the 30th anniversary of WMO’s Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) Tokyo – Tokyo Typhoon Center, responsible for the western North Pacific region, where more tropical cyclones occur than anywhere else in the world.

The meeting cited sea level rise and extreme weather patterns are having an increasing impact on vulnerable populations, especially those of Small Island Developing States (SIDSs) and coastal megacities.

Some studies show an increase in tropical cyclone intensify because of climate change.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said tropical cyclones are among the most devastating of all natural hazards. They wreak havoc with their violent winds, torrential rainfall and associated storm surges and floods.

According to Taalas, seven out of ten disasters that caused the biggest economic losses in the world from 1970-2019 are tropical cyclones.

“New technologies and dramatic advances in monitoring and forecasting skills of tropical cyclones achieved in the last 30 years means that death tolls of tens or even hundreds of thousands are a thing of the past. Improved multi-hazard early warning systems will help us protect lives and property in the future. But the challenges are immense,” said Taalas.

Video clip l Hagibis 22 hours ago
Credit: WMO