Sep 13, 2016

Taiwan, China Brace for Cat 5 Meranti

Taiwan
by
Bob Henson and Jeff Masters
,
Weather Underground
Visible satellite image of Meranti on Tuesday evening local time, September 13, 2016. Image: NOAA-NASA and RAMMB/CIRA
Visible satellite image of Meranti on Tuesday evening local time, September 13, 2016. Image: NOAA-NASA and RAMMB/CIRA

Mammoth Super Typhoon Meranti may spare Taiwan a direct hit as it continues barreling toward a potentially destructive landfall in China. Now moving just north of due west at about 15 mph, Meranti will be located near the southern tip of Taiwan by around 8:00 am Wednesday local time (8:00 pm Tuesday EDT). The latest forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JWTC) takes the center of Meranti within 50 miles of southern Taiwan, close enough to generate torrential rains, possible landslides, and significant wind damage. Meranti is expected to slam into the southeast coast of China early Thursday local time (8:00 pm EDT Wednesday), perhaps near or just south of the city of Xiamen (population 3.5 million) in China’s Fujian province.

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Meranti is a very large and extremely powerful typhoon. Its highest 1-minute sustained winds were 185 mph on Tuesday morning, according to the JWTC. This puts Meranti ahead of Cyclone Winston for the strongest sustained winds for any tropical cyclone of 2016 thus far. (Winston’s top winds were reduced from 185 to 180 mph in post-storm reanalysis.)

Meranti is even more impressive than Winston in another way. Because Meranti is so large, its central pressure is even lower than would be the case for a smaller storm that had the same peak winds. At 12:50 Z (8:50 am EDT) Tuesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency analyzed Meranti’s central pressure at 890 millibars. This puts Meranti in the elite pantheon of the deepest tropical cyclones ever recorded anywhere on Earth. Several others have had 890 mb central pressure, but only a few have dipped below that mark, including 2 hurricanes in the Atlantic, 1 hurricane in the Northeast Pacific, and 13 typhoons in the Northwest Pacific:

Typhoon Tip (1979) - 870 mb
Hurricane Patricia (2015) - 872 mb
Typhoon June (1975) - 875 mb
Typhoon Nora (1973) - 875 mb
Typhoon Ida (1958) - 877 mb
Typhoon Kit (1966) - 880 mb
Typhoon Rita (1978) - 880 mb
Typhoon Vanessa (1984) - 880 mb
Typhoon Nancy (1961) - 882 mb
Hurricane Wilma (2005) - 882 mb
Typhoon Forrest (1983) - 885 mb
Typhoon Irma (1971) - 885 mb
Typhoon Megi (2010) - 885 mb
Typhoon Nina (1953) - 885 mb
Typhoon Marge (1951) - 886 mb
Hurricane Gilbert (1988) - 888 mb