The first typhoon of the year across the north west Pacific has been menacing the coast of the Philippines especially Luzon Island however, the storm is not forecast to make landfall.
The storm formed east of the Philippines then tracked north west skirting the eastern coastline of Luzon Island. The storm is now forecast to track northwards then turn north east taking it away from population centres and back out to sea where the storm will decay.
This storm reached Category 5 on the Saffir Simpson Scale where it had peak wind gusts of 145 knots or approximately 268 km/h making it an intense system.
At the time of writing, CIMSS has the storm as being rated Category 4 on the Saffir Simpson Scale with peak wind gusts to 120 knots or 222 km/h but over the next 2 days, the storm should weaken as it passes over colder waters of below 26C.
The north west Pacific Ocean is a favourable location for the development of intense typhoons due to favourable ocean temperatures and ideal conditions and such intense storms occur most years. Often landfall occurs across the Philippines, Taiwan and or southern China.
However, it is expected that Typhoon Surigae, will remain well clear of population centres.
Recent satellite images show an intense storm with a well defined eye located directly east of Luzon Island. It is a compact storm with well defined convection occurring especially across its eastern side.
The storm will only be affecting shipping lanes and aircraft flight paths given its location.
Tropical Cyclone Seroja has made landfall very close to the town of Kalbarri in Western Australia and has caused some significant damage to the town. In addition, the regional city of Geraldton was also impacted by gale force and damaging winds including a period of heavy rain as the storm passed over.
The storm was travelling unusually fast at landfall and reached a speed of at least 55 km/h. It had a relatively narrow track as it traversed over land towards the south east.
Media reports have indicated that peak wind gusts reached 170 km/h and that the storm was a Category 3 system upon landfall.
While verified data is still being processed and updated, a number of weather stations within proximity of the storm have recorded the following peak wind gusts:-
Geraldton Airport - 120 km/h at 8.52 pm and 8.57 pm. However, not recorded in the detailed notes, a single peak gust of 121 km/h was recorded at 9 pm according to data taken from “Australian Weather News”.
Furthermore, significant peak wind gusts at Geraldton Airport occurred mainly between 8.23 pm and 9.08 pm on Sunday evening.
Morawa Airport - A single peak windgust of 119 km/h occurred at 11.26 pm.
Shark Bay - Maximum peak wind gusts of 91 km/h occurred.
According to observations taken from the following sites (Taken from “The Australian Weather News” 12/4/2021)
Binnu Agricultural Station - A peak windgust of 122 km/h occurred at 8.04 pm.
Morawa Agricultural Station - A peak windgust of 132 km/h occurred at 11.21 pm.
At the present time, additional verified data is not available and the above represents the highest identified wind gusts known as at 8 pm 12/4/2021 (Sydney Time - New South Wales).
Tropical Cyclones across the world are categorized according to their location. For example, across the Atlantic Ocean, Eastern and Central Pacific, the Saffir Simpson Scale is used and CIMSS models use the scale. Generally the National Weather Service (USA) uses the scale to determine the strength of a tropical storm.
Tropical Cyclone Seroja was determined to peak as a Category 1 system at landfall on the CIMSS models. A Category 1 storm has sustained peak wind gusts of between 119 km/h and 153 km/h and based on available data, this storm would fit the Category 1 storm system. If verified peak gusts of 170 km/h did occur, then it is possible that the storm reached Category 2 on the Saffir Simpson Scale.
Note - A Category 2 storm has maximum sustained peak wind gusts of between 154 km/h and 177 km/h on the Saffir Simpson Scale.
The Bureau of Meteorology uses a different scale for measuring the strength of tropical cyclones which makes a comparison somewhat confusing. The scale is called the “Australian Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale” which was introduced in 1989/1990 and under this scale:-
Hence on the Saffir Simpson Scale, this storm appears to have rated Category 1, possibly Category 2 but under the “Australian Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale”, the storm would have fit as a Category 3 system.
The Australian system for determining the strength of a tropical cyclone has lower thresholds than that of the Saffir Simpson Scale.
Hence, depending on what scale is used, the strength of Tropical Cyclone Seroja will vary and can be confusing.
The storm has all but decayed and for the 24 hours till 9 am 12/4/2021, a narrow band of rain of between 50 mm and 74 mm occurred along its path. The highest verified rainfall along its path for the is 24 hours is 76 mm at Binnu West.
Further to the above topic, further data has been identified in which a peak windgust of 139 km/h occurred at Binnu West at 9.47 pm Sunday and the Bureau of Meteorology has identified a peak windgust to 170 km/h at Meanarra Tower near Kalbarri at 7.03 pm on Sunday. They appear to be the higher wind gusts not appearing in the day to day data sets from surrounding weather stations.
There are two tropical cyclones off the north west coast of Western Australia with Tropical Cyclone Seroja being the stronger of the two while the smaller weaker storm has been named Odette.
Both storms now appear to be circling one another and it appears that the smaller and weaker storm is poised to merge with the larger stronger storm - Seroja.
This is a very rare event to see within Australian waters.
According to Wikipedia, it was Sakuhei Fujiwhara who described the effects of two tropical cyclones being close to one another in 1921. The rare phenomena is termed the “Fujiwhara Effect” described as when 2 nearby cyclonic vortices start to move around each other, then close their distance between their corresponding low pressure areas. This can cause the two circulations to merge.
The storms engage in binary circulations when they are less than 1,400 km apart. The two vortices will be attracted to each other and spiral into the centre point then merge. If the two storms have unequal strength, the larger storm will dominate over the weaker storm.
This is what appears to be occurring as Odette closes the distance with Seroja. Tropical Cyclone Seroja is expected to dominate the system. However, this makes forecasting challenging and difficult.
It is noted that Tropical Cyclone Seroja may not reach a category 3 storm when compared to earlier models but is still expected to reach a strength towards the higher end of Category 1 or lower end of Category 2 during its final life span with peak wind gusts of 80 knots or approximately 150 km / hour. The storms have stayed offshore but a 1,000 km stretch of the western Australia coast is at risk from the storm as landfall is forecast between Coral Bay and Jurien Bay and there is a threat to Carnarvon, Denham, Kalbarri and even Geraldton.
As seen in the Worldview image (NASA) taken the 9 April 2021, there are three storms in close proximity of one another however one has since decayed leaving Odette and Seroja as the remaining systems.
Whatever occurs now, Tropical Cyclone Seroja will not last too much longer because it will either make landfall or if not, it will decay over open ocean because ocean waters are significantly colder further south of its position and too cold to sustain a tropical cyclone.