Monday, October 19, 2015

Typhoon unloads deadly, flooding rain in Philippines

Capital Weather Gang

Typhoon Koppu unloads deadly, flooding rain in Philippines in record-breaking season

By Angela Fritz October 19 at 2:11 PM  

Philippines hit with lashing winds and floods from Typhoon Koppu

Tens of thousands of people are being evacuated as Typhoon Koppu makes landfall in the northern Philippines. In the cities of Maddela and Cabanatuan, the storm has brought 100 mph winds, heavy rain and flooding. (Youtube/Earth Uncut)

The island of Luzon in the Philippines is being ravaged by the heavy rain of former-Typhoon Koppu this week, with rainfall totals already approaching 3 feet in just two days. Koppu, which helped set a record for number of intense tropical cyclones in a single year, could end up being one of the Philippines costliest disasters if rainfall forecasts are correct.

Typhoon Koppu, or “Lando” in the Philippines, made landfall in the Aurora province of Luzon on Sunday as the equivalent of a strong category 4 hurricane. The damage there was catastrophic as the storm’s 150 mph winds raked over the sparsely populated region.

[Koppu leaves at least 11 dead in the Philippines]

At least 11 people have died in the storm and 65,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Aurora, the AP reports. Philippines news website Rappler reportsthat there is nearly 100 percent damage to infrastructure in Casiguran, where the typhoon came ashore. “Electricity and phone signals remain cut off in the area, making it difficult to get supplies and aid to at least 27,000 affected people,” Rappler reports.

Fears of deadly flash flooding and mudslides began to grow last week as forecasts suggested the storm would slow down to a near-stop as it passed over the island of Luzon. Even a weak tropical system can dump an incredible amount of rain if it lingers too long over a single location. This effect is enhanced when storm passes over mountainous terrain, which acts to wring moisture out of the air like a wet rag.

Now those forecasts are coming to fruition as Koppu has slowed down to a near-halt just west of the Philippines coast, with heavy thunderstorms hovering over western Luzon. Baguio City, home to over 318,000 people, has recorded nearly 3 feet of rain — 30.6 inches — since the storm began there. Over 6 inches of that fell in just three hours from 8 to 11 p.m., on Monday, Philippines time.

Unfortunately the rain is far from over for the Philippines as Koppu, now a tropical storm, makes a turn northwest and back over Luzon. Through Wednesday, models are forecasting an additional 2 feet of rain on top of what has already fallen in western Luzon.

“At a minimum, we can expect widespread storm totals of one to two feet of rain across much of northern Luzon,” writes Weather Underground’s Bob Henson. “Multi-day rainfall totals of over two feet will result in widespread flooding and mudslides, and major agricultural damage can be expected as well.”

“Koppu could still end up as one of the top-five most costly natural disasters in Philippine history,” Henson added.

Typhoon Koppu was the 19th category 4 or 5 storm of 2015, followed quickly by the 20th, Super Typhoon Champi, setting a new record for intense hurricanes in the northern hemisphere in one year. Just one of these storms was in the Atlantic Ocean, and that was Hurricane Joaquin.

The previous record was 2004, which had 18 category 4 or 5 storms and was also an El Nino year. El Nino drives up typhoon numbers with its warmer than average ocean temperatures. This year’s El Nino is likely to be among the top three strongest on record when it peaks in the next few months.

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