Typhoon Soudelor, which smashed Taiwan and deluged China, is joined at the hip with a historic heat wave in Japan.
All weather is interconnected, as the Butterfly Effect shows, but this connection is clear and direct.
There is also a hurricane in the eastern Pacific threatening Hawaii, and the heat goes on in the US. Let’s go Around The World.
Typhoon Soudelor Makes a Direct Hit On Taiwan, Then Hammers China
Typhoon Soudelor formed far out in the Pacific Ocean and made a beeline for Formosa (some of us remember the pre-Taiwan name).
Traveling over warm water with little wind shear, Soudelor became the strongest typhoon of the year with winds up to 180 miles per hour, then diminished to a modest typhoon, and finally regained strength over the energy-rich (meaning very warm) water east of the island.
Fortunately for the Taiwanese, the water close to shore is cooler, so the typhoon lost a little strength before making landfall with maximum winds of 115 miles per hour.
Effects Of Soudelor On Taiwan
It could have been worse; Soudelor could have struck the capital of Taipei, for which it was headed for a while.
Striking the less-inhabited east coast, the worst was in the mountains where thirty inches of rain brought the likelihood of mudslides. Though still a typhoon, Soudelor was considerably diminished when it reached the heavily populated western edge of the island.
Soudelor killed at least six people in Taiwan and left three million without power.
Taiwan’s east coast is somewhat protected against storm surge by a very steep coastal-water bottom profile.
Whereas hurricanes hitting shallow coastal areas have a long runup that increases storm surge, the steep face east of Taiwan confines to the storm surge to the actual wave height.
Soudelor Made A Second Landfall
After crossing Taiwan, Soudelor had lost a lot of strength before making a second landfall in China near Quanzhou, about half way between Hong Kong and Shanghai. Though a lot of rain was deposited on Taiwan, there was plenty left for mainland China. As the storm moved inland into higher terrain, the precipitation was exacerbated. The Chinese government is not forthcoming with believable information, but satellite views suggest rainfall topped 20 inches in places.
State-controlled Chinese media did report 21 killed and several more missing due to Soudelor.
The Japanese Heat Wave
Decoded Science has discussed record heat in the American northwest and south, Spain, and Israel. We now add Japan to the list of heat-wave-suffering nations. The high temperature has reached 90 or above every day since July 19 (average is 85), topping out at 100 degrees on Friday.
The heat wave is caused by a stationary high pressure cap parked over the waters east of Asia, just the way a similar cap is currently in place over the American southern plains. As Decoded Science has pointed out many times, such scenarios in which the weather pattern simply gets stuck in place are becoming more common and are consistent with the forecasts for the results of global warming.
Japan Weather: The Connection
The dome of high pressure over Japan, which is bringing extreme heat to that country by compressing the air as it gently subsides in the center of the high pressure, has a clockwise (anti-cyclonic) flow around it. On the southern periphery, the winds are from the east, and these east winds steered Typhoon Soudelor into Taiwan.
The pattern is changing, so Japan will have cooler weather later this week, and the next storm will be steered well east of any Asian land masses.
Heat Waves In The US
The heat waves over the US have been governed by alternating weather patterns Hotzilla and Westzilla. The former is a high latitude zonal flow (a jet stream across the northern states and southern Canada) that brings warmth all across the south, and the latter has high pressure in the west and lower pressure in the east. The current heat wave in the southern plains is an intermediate stage, with the high pressure cap moving southeastward from the northwest.
The result is an especially noticeable reversal of the precipitation pattern over Texas and Oklahoma.
The first time Hotzilla was dominant, temperature records were broken in Las Vegas and Atlanta; but in the south-central states, a southeast flow brought abundant moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and record rains. This is an example of trajectory trumping general circulation. Though the jet stream pattern suggested high surface temperatures, the clouds associated with the wet flow kept the temperature moderate.
Texas is now getting its share of heat and then some. In addition, there has been a complete reversal of the precipitation pattern: In the past 30 days the eastern two-thirds of Texas has received less than a half-inch of rain, and parts of central Texas have received no rain at all.
Hurricane Hilda Threatens Hawaii
Hurricane Hilda is following a similar path to that of last week’s Hurricane Guillermo. Guillermo veered to the north, but Hilda is forecast to pass south of Hilo on the Big Island. Fortunately the storm will be below tropical storm intensity when it arrives and the main effect will be rain.
Hawaii is protected by cool water to its east and southeast, and the only powerful storms to reach it have historically taken a path far to the south, then turned abruptly northward.
As the earth’s atmosphere and oceans warm, just a degree or two of warming in the waters east and southeast of Hawaii could result in many more hurricanes hitting the islands.
Hotter Air, Hotter Water; More Heat Waves, More Typhoons
Midsummer is the best time to notice the effects of global warming. This week it’s extreme heat and a Super-Typhoon in Asia. Next week? Probably more heat waves and more tropical activity. What do you observe in your neighborhood?