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Posted at 12:10 PM ET, 10/19/2010

Typhoon Megi eyes China coast, Hong Kong

By Jason Samenow

* Rain tomorrow AM: Full Forecast | Climate poll cause for despair? *

Satellite image of Super Typhoon Megi and its projected track. Image courtesy University of Wisconsin's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies

While no longer the freakish category 5 super typhoon that hammered the northern Philippines, Megi remains a formidable and expansive category 3 typhoon in the South China Sea. (The super typhoon designation is reserved for storms with sustained winds of 150 mph or higher, equivalent to a category 4 or 5 hurricane).

Packing winds of 115 mph, the U.S Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) tracks Megi on a course to make its second landfall very close to Hong Kong Friday into Saturday. However, there is significant uncertainty in the track - as shown by the large track cone (bounded by the yellow lines) in the image above - due to poor agreement among forecast models.

According to JTWC, conditions are favorable for Megi to strengthen over the next one to two days perhaps back to super typhoon intensity (category 4). After that, it is forecast to gradually weaken due to wind shear (changing of wind with height) that will interfere with the storm's circulation. Nonetheless, Megi is likely to be a devastating storm for coastal China. As meteorologist Jeff Masters at Wunderground wrote this morning:

... Megi will probably hit China as a major Category 3 typhoon,bringing a significant storm surge, high winds, and widespread torrential rains that will likely make this a multi-billion dollar disaster for China.

The toll inflicted on the northern Philippines by Megi is still being discovered but initial reports indicate at least 10 people were killed and that there was flooding and extensive wind damage.

Outdoing the images I posted last night, the University of Wisconsin's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies posted the following incredible satellite shots of Megi as it hit the Philippines on its blog. They were too dramatic not to republish below:

Visible satellite loop tracking the eye of Super Typhoon Megi as it made landfall across the northern portion of the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Image courtesy University of Wisconsin's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies

A Terra MODIS infared image of Megi's eye and surrounding eyewall structure of Megi prior to landfall in the Philippines. Image courtesy University of Wisconsin's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies

By Jason Samenow  | October 19, 2010; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  International Weather, Tropical Weather  
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Actually, as I posted yesterday, the category of "super hurricane" or "super cyclone" should be adapted for ANY tropical cyclone in any basin whose sustained winds reach 150 mph., not just for Western Pacific typhoons.

The same classification [in this case "super cyclone"] could be adapted to any extratropical cyclone whose sustained winds reach 150 mph, though I expect that this would very rarely occur, and that chiefly in three regions of the Earth, all oceanic. These three regions are the areas of the Aleutian and Icelandic lows in the Northern Hemisphere, and the circum-Austral ocean area of the Southern Hemisphere between the major continents and Antarctica. Extratropical cyclones in these three regions can become very intense and on rare occasions, sustained winds may reach or exceed 150 mph, especially if a dissipating hurricane, typhoon or other tropical system becomes incorporated into a "hybrid" cyclone. Such intense systems are rare but may occur. Wind speeds are dependent on pressure-field changes, and extratropical systems tend to be larger; thus extreme sustained winds in extratropical storms are rather rare, except on a localized [e.g. tornado, derecho] scale.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | October 19, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

The "Cyclone Phase Evolution" web site issued by the Meteorology Department at Florida State University tracks global atmospheric pressure fields worldwide for most of the major models and ensembles and is a good source for locating areas of extreme low and high barometric pressure [in hectoPascals or millibars]. However extremes of pressure in tropical cyclones might not show up well due to the generally smaller size of these systems.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | October 19, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Fascinating how quickly the eye closed up after the storm hit northern Luzon.

It's important to post about these weather events, which can cause almost unimaginable suffering in other parts of the world. We're sometimes too U.S.-centric; if it's not happening here, it sometimes barely registers. It takes something really extreme such as the Moscow heat wave or the Pakistan monsoon rains to get attention.

So far, we were lucky in this hemisphere during the rapdily diminishing hurricane season. Next year: quien sabe?

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | October 19, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

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