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The thirteenth tropical storm of the Western Pacific season, named Soudelor, has formed north of Pohnpei in the east of the basin. Winds are at 35kts currently. Deep convectiom is persisting and expanding near the centre of circulation. Shear is at moderate levels but is being negated by robust poleward outflow. Soudelor is forecast to head west-northwest through the forecast period as it remains on the south side of a ridge entrenched to the north of the storm. Shear is set to eventually ease; until it does, intensification is likely to be steady, but after it Soudelor could intensify more rapidly. The forecast is for Soudelor to become quite an intense typhoon by day 5, with JTWC expecting winds of 125kts by this time.

Models have been forecasting the west-northwest track to perist beyond day 5 (the forecast period) and to impact eastern China as a significant typhoon. This is a long way off of course, but makes Soudelor worth keeping a close eye on.

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Soudelor has intensified slightly to 40kts. Shear has negatively impacted Soudelor so far, preventing significant intensification. Shear has dropped to low levels now however, and outflow has expanded in all quadrants of the storm. In addition, sea surface temperatures are around 30-31C, and ocean heat content is high with the warm waters extending to a fair depth. These very favourable factors are strongly suggesting Soudelor is about to undergo a period of rapid intensification, which is reflected in JTWC's latest forecast.

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Latest imagery shows Soudelor's inner core really tightening up, with deep, central convection and tightly wound banding. Soudelor's small size also makes rapid intensification a more likely outcome.

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Soudelor has significantly intensified to 90kts, a cat 2 typhoon on the SS scale. Soudelor has developed a small eye embedded in the central dense overcast, flanked by strong, spiral banding. Further rapid strengthening is forecast, with JTWC expecting a peak of 140kts (cat 5 on the SS scale).

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Soudelor has bombed in intensity over the last 24hrs. Soudelor is now a high end cat 4 Super Typhoon with winds of 135kts. Category 5 status is imminent it seems as the eye is perfectly defined and is embedded in a central dense overcast with very cold cloud tops. Taiwan and southeast China are still in the firing line from Soudelor. Thankfully, some weakening is expected prior to landfall but Soudelor is still likely to be a significant typhoon of cat 3 or 4 strength as it makes landfall.

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One word is already enough to describe this cyclone... WOW.

 

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Dvorak satellite image loop of Soudelor (click to activate).

 

Very impressive how deep and circular the convection surrounding the eye of Soudelor is.

 

The satellite intensity trends from CIMSS ADT shows how quickly Soudelor intensified from yesterday on, really impressive. Given the current satellite presentation, and the satellite intensity trends, this cyclone would definitely classify as a category 5 tropical cyclone (SSHS).

 

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CIMSS ADT satellite intensity trends

 

Just as a very impressive image: a real time image from the Himawari-8 satellite:

 

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Himawari-8 satellite image (as of 18 UTC 03-08)

 

Sources
tropic.ssec.wisc.edu/#

http://nhc.noaa.gov/

http://www.data.jma.go.jp/mscweb/data/himawari/sat_img.php?area=pi1
 

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Taiwan must keep very close watch

Chart weatherbell

 

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JTWC have raised the winds to 155kts in the latest update, with a peak of 160kts expected. This is a very solid category 5 on the SS scale. This certainly a very very impressive system.

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Soudelor has lost category 5 status but is still a 130kt category 4 super typhoon. Cloud tops have warmed considerably in the central dense overcast, but the eye is still well defined. A trough is causing some subsidence over Soudelor, and this, along with lower ocean heat content values along track, should promote some further weakening over the next day or so. Unfortunately, on approach to Taiwan ocean heat content values rise again, and the trough is expected to move away bringing better outflow for Soudelor, which is expected to allow Soudelor to reintensifiy before landfall.

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I began test plotting tropical storms in 3D. Here is an example for Soudelor, from 2km forecast HWRF data.

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And an analysis plot from 0.25 GFS grid, to give you an idea for comparison how detailed does GFS see these storms.

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I began test plotting tropical storms in 3D. Here is an example for Soudelor, from 2km forecast HWRF data.

 

A very interesting series of 3D plots you have made there! What I find especially stunning is to see that these models can actually capture small-scale varieties in the eyewall convection (like concentric/double eyewall structures). It would be very interesting to compare the output of the HWRF model of 07-08 12Z (in 3D) with satellite imagery to see how well the model captured the inner core dynamics of Soudelor.

 

As an illustration: the current complex eyewall structure of Soudelor, as seen from satellite:

 

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Rainbow satellite image of Souldelor as of 21:01 UTC 06-08. (Courtesy: NOAA)

 

TRMM in 3D

 

What could make these 3D simulations even more useful is to compare them with 3D rainfall data from TRMM (tropical rainfall measuring mission). In this way the model can be validated visually in three dimensions. Coincidently, the TRMM satellite passed over the cyclone yesterday, giving some nice 3D insights into the precipitation amounts and structure of the cyclone at that time.

 

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TRMM 3D rainfall data as of 05-08 (Courtesy: NOAA).

 

These 3D animations of tropical cyclones you made are a great find, thanks for sharing!

 

Sources:

http://trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov/

http://nhc.noaa.gov/

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Due to dry air entrainment and an eyewall replacement cycle, Soudelor weakened to 90kts, cat 2 on the SS scale. Now the eyewall replacement cycle is complete, Soudelor has started to restrengthen, with winds now at 95kts. Dry air is still plaguing Soudelor however, with the convection being quite shallow around the well defined eye. Strong outflow and warm waters should allow Soudelor to overcome the dry air to some extent, and re-strengthen to a category 3 typhoon before making landfall on Taiwan.

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Hi - currently im in Beijing. Do you think I'll see any effects of Soudelor?

As far as I can see maybe Shanghai will see lots of rain but that's about as far North as it will get.

You are quite correct, I doubt Beijing will see anything from Soudelor, so you should be absolutely fine :)

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