Archive for the ‘News’ Category

The Prospect of a Cold Guarantee is a Stone Cold Lock
January 23, 2011

Does This Look Like the Coldest Place in the United States?

Alaska Jan. Mean Min Temperatures 1971-2000

On This Date in History:  At this point in the winter season, data from the National Snow Analysis reveals that 49% of the nation is covered in snow.  Last month, that total was 44.8% but, in between, I’ve noted some days where the snow cover was as high as 70%.  We are in a weather pattern that has been persistent with a general ridge in the west and a trof down through the front range of the Rockies or through the midwest.  While there have been some big storms on the West Coast, most of the action seems to be riding up the northern part of the Rockies and then down deep, often way deep, into the South with the base of the mean trof generally in the heart of Dixie.  The mean long wave has been such that it tends to take storms just off the East Coast.  The East Coast has dodged a bullet for the most part because, while there have been a couple of big boppers nail New England, much of the Eastern Seaboard has missed out on several systems that, had they been about 100 miles further west, would have buried the I-95 corridor from North Carolina to Maine.  It’s pretty cold now but a super cold outbreak has for the most part been avoided.  While some records have no doubt been set, certainly no one has come close to all-time low temperatures recorded  in history.

Back in late 1970, there was a big high pressure ridge situated over Hawaii but, by early 1971, that big ridge shifted to the East.  A new mean ridge set up over the Bering Sea and created a strong blocking pattern over the Central Pacific. Northerly flow across the Bering Sea remained persistent but the southern part of the December trof moved east to set up a strong, broad cyclonic circulation across the Mississippi Valley to the Atlantic.  All of Alaska was much colder than average that January with Fairbanks, Alaska not getting above 22 F degrees below zero for 18 consecutive days, which is a record for such cold of such duration.  The record-setting cold month in Fairbanks resulted in an average temperature for that month in that city of 31.7 F degrees below zero. 

The Prospect Creek Camp was located down this road at the bottom of the valley

About 200 miles Northwest of Fairbanks and 25 miles Southeast of Bettles, AK, one will find tiny Prospect Creek, Alaska.  It was first settled as a mining camp in the gold rush days.  Most notably, a camp was built there for the builders of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1974.  The near ghost town was transformed into the residence for some 27,000 workers and to serve pipeline station number 5.  There is not much at the location and the camp was little more than housing with some washrooms.  When the pipeline was completed in 1977, Prospect Creek was once again abandoned, though in 1992 it did serve as a base of operations for some people working on the rebuilding of a bridge along the Dalton Highway.  Not only did it serve to house workers but also their families and I’m sure that mom was happy to bring the kids along to live in the wilderness north of the Arctic circle at about 67 degrees North Latitude.  It’s so far north and so cold that it’s really more or less a desert as it only gets between 0 and 10 inches of precipitation per year.  June and July aren’t too bad with average highs of 71 and 73 respectively.  But, January and February average highs are 2 and 10 degree respectively and 6 months out of the year, the average high is below freezing.  In spite of the cold, you can find Black and Brown bears in the area as well as Bald Eagles.  But, you probably won’t find Sarah Palin wandering about as it’s about 530 miles North of the former governor’s home town of Wasilla.

Airstrip at Snag, Yukon Territory Where Lowest North America Temperature was Recorded

Aside from all of this, it’s tough to find much about Prospect Creek and most likely would not be found anywhere on the internet or in encyclopedia’s if it were not what happened there on January 23, 1971.   The big fat ridge that parked itself over the region in January 1971 and brought Fairbanks such frigid conditions affected the entire state.  I suspect that the center of the high pressure ridge must have moved directly over Prospect Creek because, on this date in 1971, the mercury at Prospect Creek, Alaska fell all the way to 79.8F degrees below zero, giving it the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in the United  States.  For all of North America, the low that day is second only to Snag, Yukon Territory, Canada that hit minus 81F degrees on February 3, 1947.  But, Snag’s elevation is 2100 ft while Prospect Creek is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 feet above sea level. 

It's Cold at Amundsen Scott but the Aurora Can Make It Worth the Trouble

 Mt. Washington, NH has the distinction of having the lowest annual mean temperature of 26.5F and the lowest mean summer temperature (51.6F) in the lower 48.  In 1954, a big old 1070mb high settled in over Montana and on January 20, the temperature at Rogers Pass in Lewis and Clark County fell to -69.7F to set the coldest temperature ever recorded in the lower 48 states. Rogers Pass sits about 150 feet below the Continental Divide at around 6000 ft in elevation.  It’s interesting that just 11 days before, the lowest temperature on the Greenland Icecap was recorded at -86.6 degrees. That is nothing compared to the all-time planet low temperature of -128.6F on July 21, 1983 at the Amundsen-Scott Station,which is just a few hundred yards from the geographic South Pole in Antarctica.  With all of this, it’s no wonder that Prospect Creek has zero population today.  But, you can mail a letter there, if you like.  The zip code is 99726.  I suppose the postal carrier that gets that mail-route is being punished because “nor rain, nor snow, nor dead of night” does not include “nor 79 degrees below zero.”  By the way, in case you are interested, you can take a tour that includes Prospect Creek.  I might suggest June or July.

Weather Bottom Line:  Well…after reading all of that, you should feel down-right warm.  Maybe not.  We have a hint of a warm up in the week ahead but it’s not much of a hint and it won’t last long.  First, we have a little disturbance wandering across that is damping out, or weakening so we may have some snow showers today and tomorrow.  Then another system comes across the south and an accompanying disturbance coming out of the midwest will also get damped out so we may have some snow showers Tuesday and Wednesday too but I don’t think it will be all that terrific.  We warm up slightly to the mid 30’s by the end of the week and may even hit 40 on Saturday but that’s about it because on Sunday, we’re back down to highs in the 20’s.  Break out the tanning butter on Saturday.

It’s National Nothing Day; Celebrate in Earnest
January 16, 2011

You can even get a wristband (click image) for National Nothing Day!

Doing Nothing Meant Alot to Bon Scott and Angus Young

This Date in History: Everyone says that they are so busy these days, or at least we act like we are. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone tells me that they are too busy to do something. Do you think that you could just do nothing? There is an AC/DC song called Down Payment Blues with a line that says “I know I ain’t doin’ much, doin’ nothin’ means a lot to me.” My friends and I in high school always liked that song. I guess Bon Scott liked doin’ nothing. After a bunch of poor grades on a test, a bunch of my students’ excuse was that they didn’t have time to do the reading assignment. A few days later, I tricked them when I asked if they had seen the UL-UK football game, the VH-1 Awards or Dancing with the Stars. When they all said that they had, I told them to never tell me that they don’t have time to do the reading assignment. We use the excuse that “I don’t have time” to do a given thing when, in fact, we choose not to use our time in that way. We say that we don’t have time to visit a co-worker in the hospital but have plenty of time to watch that favorite TV show. So, the question on the table might be, could you do nothing or are you too busy?

I think that everyone’s life is an interesting story. But, I suppose society doesn’t much think so. The lives of everyday people tend to go by the wayside while instead we turn our attention to people who yearn for attention even though they didn’t do anything to really earn that distinction. Think of all of the celebrities in the spotlight today who really have done nothing except be in the spotlight. So, maybe we do like to celebrate nothing. If that is the case, then today is your lucky day. It would seem that the life of a newspaperman would be interesting but, in the case of Harold Pullman Coffin, apparently that was not the case.

One cannot find anything about the life of this journalist; not even the name of any newspaper for which he worked. Children Come First have a writing contest for the day but the link to the Smithsonian it features leads nowhere. But, you will find that he was described as a “newspaperman” and he managed to leave his name for posterity and history simply by decided to celebrate nothing. On this date in 1973, newspaperman Harold Pullman Coffin designated January 16 as National Nothing Day. I’m not sure of his motivation but he wanted to “to provide Americans with one national day when they can just sit without celebrating, observing, or honoring anything.” Beyond that quote and the assertion that he was a newspaperman, there is nothing more. It’s too bad that Congress doesn’t recognize Coffin’s day for about half the year, then the nation might be able to get something done.

Abolitionist Coffin Related To Harold Pullman Coffin?

Anyway, I”m forced to speculate regarding Mr. Coffin but I have found that the University of Nevada at Reno is the holder of the E.B. Coffin collection. It is a set of personal papers and photographs derived from the Edward Baker Coffin family. Edward Baker Coffin was born in 1861 in California. His family was from Nantuckett, MA and his uncle or great uncle was probably aboltionist Levi Coffin as his brother was named George Levi Coffin. Edward B. Coffin married Ida Pullman of Elko, Nevada. They had 4 children, including Harold Pullman Coffin. Now, that is a rather unusual name so it’s probably our National Nothing Day founder or at least a relation. Now, the listing of Harold Pullman was fourth in the list of the children so we may presume that he was the youngest. But even so, if we assume that Edward Coffin was 30 when Harold was born, then Harold Pullman Coffin would have been 82 when he designated National Nothing Day as an Un-Event.

Andy Rooney Doesn’t think much of Birthdays

Andy Rooney just celebrated his 92nd birthday so, it’s possible that Coffin could have been still working as a newspaperman. (Rooney Bio) But, it seems more likely that the founder of National Nothing Day was the grandson of Edward Baker Coffin. But, we know nothing of the birthday of Harry Pullman Coffin and Andy Rooney says that Unhappy Birthday is a better greeting or none at all for someone looking at another year on the planet. Besides that, it’s probably better that we know nothing about the founder of National Nothing Day because, if we knew more, than that would be something.

Weather Bottom Line:  Today may be nothing…and the Seattle Seahawks seemed to have taken the day seriously…but tomorrow is something of note as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  There are lots of events around town but, unfortunately, the weather will not be very cooperative.  The good news is that we will be dancing with the 40 degree mark.  The bad news is that its going to be wet.  I would much rather have a bunch of snow than cold, dreary rain.  Well, we can’t have everything and I suspect that after the cold and rather snowy winter we’ve had so far, many of you would take the rain.  But, alas, the pattern does not change too much and it would appear that we’re in store for another pretty cold stretch after Tuesday as, after again being around 40 or so we fall below freezing Tuesday night and do not rise above 32 through next weekend.  In fact, several days will feature highs in the 20’s.  Snow returns to the forecast for Thursday behind which arctic air spills down.  At this point, the morning golf game next weekend may be tough as we’ll probably be in the single digits each morning.  Hope you’ve been nice to LG&E.

Nebraska School Kids From the Past Could Tell You that Winter Blizzards Happen
January 12, 2011

Blizzard Before Global Warming

Blizzard Before Global Warming

Blizzard Before Global Warming

Nebraska School Kids January 1888

On This Date In History:  Last year, the East Coast, most famously the Washington DC area, had a few giant snow storms.  Some folks blamed Global Warming.  Around Christmas this year, the northeast got slammed by a big old system that dropped 20 inches on Central Park and gave the mayor a big headache.  Now, there is another similar system that has dumped a bunch of snow and ice in the South and promises to adversely affect the northeast again.  My bet is that New York will get a significant amount of snow but I suspect that Boston will be closer to the target of the 2-foot-type snow totals and blizzard warnings.  In between these events, we had a tornado outbreak in the Ozarks and parts of the Midwest.  Ironically, parts of Arkansas that got whacked with twisters a couple of weeks ago have now had to deal with the snow and ice.  I have fully expected Global Warming articles but haven’t seen much yet.  But, you know what?  It is not unprecedented.  I recall a January  tornado that caused fatalities in Owensboro not too many years ago.  This is a La Nina year and that may have more to do with the persistent pattern we’ve had and when you get a change in the pattern, well, then severe weather can occur in between the wintry stuff.  At this point, the models way out are suggesting another potential severe outbreak in the Ozarks in a couple of weeks.  Not sure if it will happen, but its out there.

While its been snowing in Atlanta, its been in the upper 70’s to near 80 in South Florida, that is about normal. As I alluded, it’s not out of the question that we get a warm up for a few days in the South in a couple of weeks.   Winter weather is not unusual and neither are warm ups, which are  so common that it is known as a “false spring”.  In the Midwest, January 11,888 had been unseasonably warm as had the morning of January 12. A cold front came barreling down with air that dropped temperatures well below zero with high winds. Some reports of the day say that the mercury fell 100 degrees in 24 hours. ..while its possible, that may be an exaggeration.

You Can Read The Book

You Can Read The Book

You Can Read The Book
When the mercury fell, the snow began to fall. Most likely a shortwave blew up from the southwest and grabbed all of the warm moist air to the south and threw it over the cold air. People who had gone to work and especially school children had not dressed for the extreme cold as the whole thing was a total surprise. 235 people died that day, many of them school children trying to get home. Hence, on this date in 1888, the Midwest of the United States suffered from what is now known as either the “Schoolhouse Blizzard,” “The Big Brash Blizzard of 1888” or the “Schoolchildren’s Blizzard.” One story holds that a teacher was trapped in her schoolhouse with 3 children and by 3 pm they had run out of heating fuel. She tried to lead them 82 yards to her boarding house. Visibility was so poor that they got lost in the short distance and the 3 kids died. She survived but lost her feet to frostbite. There are many other tales of rescues using rope to tie children together as they tried to get to safety.  The meteorological details surrounding the 1888 blizzard are interesting and the individual stories quite harrowing.

Extreme weather changes have gone on in this country in the winter for a long long time….long before anyone thought of global warming. Its just that now we have better forecasts to be able to prepare.

Wall Street March 1888

Not A Good Trading Day on Wall Street

It was a tough winter in 1888. In March, New York City had one of its greatest snowfalls and blizzards. From March 12-14, about 50 inches fell and wind drifted the snow to up to 40 feet. The city came to a standstill.  The storm adversely affected cities all up and down the East Coast, including Baltimore, which had temperatures in the mid 40’s the day before the storm hit.   And that winter of 1888 was well before anyone suggests that climate change had any effect on the weather.

Weather patterns really haven’t changed all that much, it’s just that forecasting has gotten so much better as well as communications.  But, snow forecasting remains very difficult and the TV honchos who aren’t on the air insist on public relations campaigns that elevate their tv weather folks to mythical proportions.  Even if a station has a top shelf Meteorologist like Jay Cardosi or Matt Milosevich, Kevin Harned or Marc Weinberg, it’s far from perfect.  It doesn’t help when a tv outfit hires a broadcaster and then labels them as  a Meteorologist. It’s really not fair to that person. Either way, snow/sleet/ice forecasts can be really beyond human abilities and so they change.  The difference between an inch of snow and 5 inches is not much.  And when you throw in ice potential, it really creates a challenge.  Be thankful for what we have today.  Those kids in Nebraska in 1888 could only dream of having someone alert them to the potential danger as did the people along the East Coast later that year.

Typhoon Megi Slated For 2nd Landfall in East China; Taiwan not totally out of woods
October 21, 2010

Note Typhoon Megi ragged, off-center eye at 18:30Z 10.21.10 on West Pacific Rainbow IR image (click for most recent loop)

Typhoon Megi JTWC Forecast Track 10.21.10

Typhoon Megi:  4 days ago, prior to then Super Typhoon Megi’s landfall on the Philippines, I had mentioned in my long term analysis that “… if the trof is fast and very deep, it could conceivably turn the storm north and then northeast.  While there may not be sufficient room in the sea for this to occur without striking land, that scenario would put Taiwan at risk of a hit from the Southwest…”  At the time, the forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center called for the storm to track well to the Southwest of Hong Kong, perhaps toward the South China island of Hainan.  As it turns out the trof that was expected to turn the storm northwest was, in fact, deeper than forecast and Typhoon Megi turned North-Northwest not long after it emerged in the South China Sea. 

Typhoon Megi Visible Satellite 10.21.10

The damage from then Super Typhoon Megi to thePhilippines was largely to agricultural concerns. (Image Gallery) While the current agricultural outlook for the Philippines is stable, longer term consequences could result.  The loss of life was limited, considering that prior to landfall Megi had hit nearly 167 kts (190 mph) sustained winds with gusts to 220 mph.  It weakened a shade at landfall but was still an extremely strong super typhoon.  But, it moved across the island at a steady clip and had its greatest impact on less populated parts of the nation so flooding and loss of life was limited.

10.21.10 TPW image clearly shows Typhoon Megi nearing the Taiwan Strait (click for real time previous 72 hour loop)

Map of South China and Vicinity

At 15 UTC (Z) October 21, 2010 Typhoon Megi was about 250 nm southeast of Hong Kong moving North-Northeast at just 4 kts.  The trof in Southeast Asia dug so deep that it created a contraction in the steering ridge over the Western Pacific and the storm is now moving around the periphery of that ridge.  It is moving into cooler water which will hamper any further development but its got such a good outflow to the North that the decreasing intensity trend will be slower than what might otherwise occur.  Nevertheless, as it interacts with southwesterly flow aloft as it runs up along the trof to the northeast, it will begin to get ripped apart.  As I had mentioned a few days ago, if it weren’t for land getting in the way, this guy may have been a threat to Taiwan but the Chinese coast should get into the way. 

Note 7 day rainfall total related to Typhoon Megi ending 15 UTC (Z) 10.21.10 From NASA TRMM

In all likelihood, China will experience a weakening typhoon making landfall across the Taiwan Strait from Taiwan somewhere in between Shantou and Xiamen.  It is possible that the winds may have fallen to below typhoon strength by then.  I would think that the greatest concern would be for flooding as the storm, while dissipating, will have the potential to bring very heavy rains and the flooding threat will increase should the remnant of Megi move at a snails pace, which is not uncommon for a dissipating tropical cyclone.  Still, it is not totally out of the question that this guy gets so caught up in the trof that it tracks a bit more northeast, as some models suggest.  Should that occur, then Taiwan may be under the threat of a dissipating tropical cyclone from the Southwest.  As it stands, the time frame of ultimate landfall would be about 6 UTC (Z) October 23, 2010 and I suspect that would be the case if it follows the current forecast track or if it wandered farther north or northeast.

Weather Bottom Line: Our weather is lame. Nice…but lame.  Highs in 70’s lows in 40s  tonight.  A rain chance does show up by the second half of the weekend, but we’ll talk about that tomorrow.  Only caveat is that we had a little boundary come through and cooler drier air will filter in taking us down into the 30’s in some spots.  Frost possible in some areas but if the breezes persist, it may not get as chilly as some may think and the wind would also tend to limit frost.

Super Typhoon Megi Set To Strike Philippines With Extreme Intensity
October 17, 2010

Super Typhoon Megi Cast an Impressive Multispectral Image at 2330Z Oct 16, 2010

For a more recent update regarding Typhoon Megi’s approach to China CLICK HERE

Japan Meteorological Agency Forecast Track Super Typhoon Megi (Juan)

The Philippines is making preparations ahead of a powerful Super Typhoon set to strike the island nation Monday morning with effects being felt on Sunday. The storm, known locally as Juan, is feared to have the same flooding potential as Typhoon Ketsana in Sept 2009. Typhoon Megi (a.k.a. Typhoon Juan) has behaved exactly as expected and it is now a very powerful storm designated as Super Typhoon Megi, Super Typhoon Juan or Super Typhoon 15W.  Whichever moniker you choose, it is a force to be reckoned with as its energy release compares favorably to an excess of the global electric generating capacity or as an equivalent to the largest yield atomic weapon every minute.  Another estimate puts a well developed tropical cyclone energy release on par with 500,000 Hiroshima style atomic bombs per day

Super Typhoon Megi Graph of Central Pressure Progression

In any event, the inhibiting factors to the storm have gone by the wayside as anticipated and the central pressure has dropped to 908 mb, which is extremely low.  To provide a frame of reference of how that compares to intense hurricanes in the North Atlantic,  Hurricane Camille in 1969 bottomed out at 909 mb and had winds approaching 200 mph.  Hurricane Andrew in 1992 had a minima pressure of 922 mb and the lowest that Katrina had in 2005, well before landfall, was 920 mb.   Super Typhoon Megi is not too far from the all-time lowest recorded atmospheric pressure which occured in 1979 with Typhoon Tip, which had a remarkable central pressure of 870 mb.  Previously, Typhoon Ida held the record of 879 mb when it was 750 miles east of Luzon (very close to the current location of Megi-450 miles NE of Manila) in 1958.  So, extremely intense storms in the region are not totally uncommon.  The clouds that had been obscuring the center have gone by the way-side and a well defined, relatively small eye has developed. 

West Pacific IR Rainbow Satellite Featuring Typhoon Megi-Click Image for Most Recent Loop

Super Typhoon Megi (Juan) JTWC Forecast Track 00Z 10.17.10

A pressure approaching 900 mb can easily support higher winds than the 3 UTC (Z) Oct 17 2010 analysis of 140 kt sustained winds of 140 kts and gusts to 170 kts, which translates to sustained winds of 161 mph or 259 kph and gusts to 195 mph or 315 kph.  Some further intensification is possible as the forecast calls for sustained winds to increase to 145 kts and gusts to 175 kts.  While the pressure can support even higher winds than that, at this point, they are so strong that it almost becomes academic in relation to the destruction potential and the ultimate intensity at landfall will most likely be subject to eyewall replacement cycles.  When a tropical cyclone goes through an eyewall replacement cycle, central winds typically fall off but the breadth of gale force winds expands.  That was the case with Hurricane Katrina which “only” had winds of 125 mph at landfall as it headed  into Mississippi but 100 mph winds were felt all the way to Mobile.  Another factor that may inhibit substantial intensification would be a slight disruption of the northern outflow.  This is an example of why it is difficult for an extremely intense tropical cyclone to maintain its maxima for long as environmental conditions must be perfect and perfect conditions rarely last long.  Nevertheless, as it stands, the official forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center puts the winds around 140 kts at landfall sometime after 00 UTC (Z) October 18, 2010 north of Palanan and east of Tuguegarao.  It would not be out of the question for winds to exceed forecast levels at some point in time.  The timing of eyewall replacement cycles, however, is beyond current forecast abilities until the beginning of the cycle change is actually observed.

West Pacific Total Precipitable Water Latest 72 hours-Click Image for Loop

West Pacific IR Satellite with Wind Barbs (Isotachs)

As was anticipated, the trof of low pressure near Okinawa that was causing a weakness in the steering ridge to the North has moved northeast and the ridge filled in.  Consequently, the previous west northwest track of Megi has shifted westward at 12 kts.  The ridge is expected to continue to build such that the westward track should change around the time that the storm gets to the coast of Luzon such that it moves west-southwest.  That track would take Megi over the mountainous regions of northern Luzon but well north of Manila.  The storm surge on the eastern, northeastern and northern part of the island will be extreme but exact levels will be determined by the geogrpahy of the coast.  The mountains will enhance the rain totals which will most likely be extreme.  Even as it loses intensity rapidly over the mountains, the circulation will be such that there will be an onshore flow off of the South China Sea toward Manila for a period of time so rain totals will most likely be high on both sides of Luzon. 

Super Typhoon Megi Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery with max Wind Velocity-Click Image for Loop

If there is any good news to report it is that the forward speed may increase a bit and so the center of the storm may be over Luzon for only about 12 hours.  That’s plenty of time to do plenty of damage but at least its not going to crawl across the Philippines and extend the high risk for catastrophic flooding.  By 12UTC (Z) October 18, 2010 Typhoon Megi should re-emerge over the ocean in the South China Sea with winds forecast to have been reduced to 95 kts.  However, once over the warm waters of the ocean, Typhoon Megi will regain some strength but most likely will not get back to it’s former self…that would be extremely rare and there simply will not be time nor will the environmental conditions support such a scenario.  Even so, It is expected to get back to 115 kt sustained winds by 00UTC (Z) October 22, 2010. 

Super Typhoon Megi Graph of Wind Speed Progression

Previously, the extended forecast track had suggested a second landfall on the South China island of Hainan followed by a final landfall after crossing the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam.  Modeling data though has formed a consensus though of another trof coming down through Asia. 

Map SE Asia

That trofiness is expected to influence Megi northwest after it enters the South China Sea.  The depth of that trof will determine the fate of Megi.  If it is slow or not so strong, then Megi may run into China south of Hong Kong, though it would still be close enough to affect that city.  If the trof is a little deeper, then it could turn Megi for a more direct affect on Hong Kong and if the trof is fast and very deep, it could conceivably turn the storm north and then northeast.  While there may not be sufficient room in the sea for this to occur without striking land, that scenario would put Taiwan at risk of a hit from the Southwest and potentially even Japan after that.  It’s way too soon to tell.  One thing seems invevitable:  the Northern Philippines will be affected adversely of the effects of a major tropical cyclone by 00UTC (Z) 18 October 2010.

Typhoon Megi Probable Super Typhoon Threatens Philippines
October 16, 2010

23:30 UTC (Z) Rainbow IR image of Typhoon Megi Not totally impressive but it should become better defined over next 48 hours (Click image for most recent loop)

Typhoon Megi 17:30Z IR Satellite 10.15.10


Typhoon Megi continues to intensify and is expected to be a significant threat to the northern Philippine province of Luzon by late this weekend.  Americares is making preparations to bring relief.   Typhoon Megi is currently the only tropical cyclone anywhere on earth but it could be one of the strongest of the year to affect land.  While it is very likely that the storm will go well beyond the threshold of Super Typhoon status with winds in excess of 100 kts, the specific track seems to be a little problematic and that could mean all the difference for the Philippines.  By 18 UTC (Z) October 17, 2010 the typhoon is expected to have sustained winds of 135 kts with gusts to 165 kts.  Roughly, that would be just shy of the North Atlantic Category 5 classification.  Environmental conditions are such that intensification from the 18 UTC (Z) October 15, 2010 95 kt level to the loftier, stronger classification is likely.  Megi is the name of a catfish in South Korea and is related to the feeling of getting wet, according to the Hong Kong Observatory

Equatorial Total Precipitable Water-Click Image for latest 72 hour loop As Typhoon Megi Develops

Typhoon Megi JTWC Forecast Track 18UTC (Z) 10.15.10 (click to enlarge)

Typhoon Megi was about 1000 miles east of Manilla at 18 UTC (Z) 10.15.10 moving WestNorthwest at about 17 kts with a central pressure of 955 mb which will in itself support higher winds than the current estimates.   The pressure trend has continued to be down.  The typhoon has been traveling around a big ridge of high pressure to the north but has taken the more northwesterly track over the past 24 hours due to a weakness in the ridge just south of Okinawa, Japan.  The general model consensus and analysis of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center is for that weakness to get squished out and the ridge reassert itself.  As that happens, Typhoon Megi will resume a more westerly course around the ridge.  However, previous forecasts had been calling for that turn more to the west to have already occured.  Since it has not, the landfall point on Luzon has been shifted farther north to somewhere near or north of Palanan and east of Tuguegarao.  The northern part of the island is very mountainous and the terrain is anticipated to do a number on the storm and it should rapidly fall apart with the land interaction.   However, the rising terrain of the mountains will provide for a lifting mechanism that will tend to enhance rainfall.  It is for that reason that in the Philippines and other island nations with central mountain ranges that flooding and mudslides are often the greatest threat as rainfall totals can be exceptionally extreme in a relatively short period of time.  Given the counterclockwise flow of a typhoon in the northern hemisphere, even locations on the other side of the island such as Laoag can expect and onshore flow from the north that will also provide adverse conditions of wind and heavy rain.

Typhoon Megi Morphed Intergrated Microwave Imagery 00Z 10.16.10 (Click for Loop)

The thinking now is that the storm will run across the northern part of the Philippines in 48-72 hours and lose much intensity, but not completely.  It is expected to re-emerge in the South China Sea as a 75 kt typhoon where it will continue west and regain some strength over the following day or so back to 90 kts.  From that point, it is expected to make a second landfall, perhaps on the South China island of Hainan.  From there, it could move across the Gulf of Tonkin and make a 3rd landfall in North Vietnam.  While it will certainly have lost considerable intensity by then, it is not uncommon for typhoons on the downside of life to prove a risk to life and property in Vietnam due to flooding concerns. 

Map SE Asia

I would think that the fly in the ointment is the weakness in the ridge.  It is caused by a shortwave trof that came off the Asian continent.  As mentioned it is forecast to be squished, or more correctly, it is expected to lift to the northeast as the ridge fills in.  However, if that trof does not lift out in a timely manner or slower than currently anticipated, then it is plausible that Megi proceeds on its current west northwest track a bit longer than forecast before making its turn more toward the west.  Should that happen to a great enough degree, then the typhoon could run over the islands in the Luzon Strait.  That would also bring Hong Kong into the picture as a potential threat to receive at least adverse effects of a major typhoon.

Bottom line is that this is going to be a serious typhoon.  It will affect the northern Philippines to some degree.  The current forecast calls for a landfall in Northern Luzon.  However, unanticipated but possible changes in the atmospheric conditions to the north that are steering the storm give rise to a degree of uncertainty as to the ultimate story of Typhoon Megi.

Poor Attitude Cost Apollo 7 Crew Rightful Recognition and Perhaps Trip To The Moon
October 12, 2010

The Brave and Successful Men of Apollo 7 Paved The Way For Man's Walk on the Moon But They Never Flew in Space Again

Apollo 7 Flight-Tested A Significant Amount of Never Before Used Equipment and Procedures Including the Saturn IB Rocket at Liftoff on Oct 11, 1968

On This Date In History:  Our old neighbor, Walter Cunningham, on this date in 1968 was in orbit as part of the Apollo 7 crew that launched the previous morning  and marked America’s return to manned spaceflight following the fire that killed the Apollo 1 crew about a year and a half earlier.   Cunningham, Donn Eisele and Wally Schirra were undertaking a very dangerous mission.  It was the initial test flight of the Apollo spacecraft and, from top to bottom, it was a brand new machine that had never been flown before.  The mission was open-ended to some degree with no conclusion time scheduled except for the maximum of 11 days.  The flight featured numerous tests to systems and procedures and the results allowed for crucial developments that led to the successful first landing on the moon less than a year later.  Cunningham said that, “We launched on the longest and most ambitious engineering test flight in history, testing the spacecraft systems, verifying the operating procedures, checking out the worldwide tracking network, and that’s not to mention testing our crew.”   Wernher Von Braun said that ” The Apollo 7 performed… as nearly perfect as one can rightfully expect a development flight to be” and NASA’s Apollo Program Office Director General Samuel C. Phillips said,  “Apollo 7 goes in my book as a perfect mission.  Our official count is that we have accomplished 101 per cent of our intended objectives.”   However, the crew of Apollo 7 did not receive NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal as all other Apollo flight crews.  Instead, they were given the Exceptional Service Medal

My Old Neighbor, Walter Cunningham, Hard At Work During the Mission of Apollo 7

Now, Cunningham and his family lived around the corner from us. I went to his house a few times as he had a son named Brian who went to my school. I never saw Brian’s father at home, though I did see him when he visited our school once in the early 1970’s.  It never occurred to me why he was available to come to an elementary school but I always wondered why he never flew again.  The official NASA recount of Apollo 7 gives no reason.  But, other accounts reveal circumstances that NASA may have preferred stayed lost to history.   The reason was that he and the crew was grounded.  The little known story behind the successful and crucial Apollo 7 mission was that the crew were deemed to be uncooperative and “grumpy.”  It began when Schirra developed a cold a day or so into the mission.  It spread to the other crew members, though Cunningham wrote in his 1977 book (updated 2003)  The All-American Boys only that he felt a little “blah” by the 3rd day.  In space, there is no drainage from the head of mucus accumulation that fills the nasal passages,  The only relief is to blow hard and in space that can be quite painful to the ear drums.  Hence, this is the reason behind the grumpiness of the crew, in particular Schirra. 

Not Only Equipment But Also Critical Procedures Were Tried For the First Time On Apollo 7 Such As Lunar Module Rendevous Methods

Schirra was one of the original Mercury 7 and had flown in in the Gemini program so one might think, as a NASA veteran, he would know what was kosher and what was off-limits.  Then again, perhaps as an original American space hero, he had a little issue regarding hubris.  Or maybe, it was just the cold.  In any event,  the crew members complained about the sleep schedule, which did not correspond to normal earth conditions.  They complained about the sleeping arrangements; clasps that held the sleeping bags in place were apparently in inappropriate places.  They complained about the food.  Following his Gemini mission, Schirra vowed to take coffee with him if he ever flew on Ap0llo; he did.  They complained about noisy fans in the environmental control.  And, to be fair, I have not read about any complaints about something that would cause anyone to complain but it had to cause irritation.  The defication bags were cumbersome and the whole process took some 40 to 60 minutes with malodorous consequences.  Hence, the crewmen tended to hold off on releasing body wastes as long as possible.  There are all sorts of issues that arise with a test mission and they had to contend with every one.  But, it was their reaction to the problems that got them in trouble.

Schirra and Crew Clowned Around While On TV But Their Mood Was Anything But Fun

Some problems may have been kept in-house but the crews demeanor became known throughout the NASA hierarchy when Schirra decided unilaterally to cancel one of several scheduled television hook ups with the world.  Remember, NASA and the United States was really into the publicity of the efforts of the space program in the midst of the Cold War.  Donald “Deke” Slayton was also one of the original Mercury 7 and was in charge of crew assignments,  He tried to talk Schirra out of his decision but was tersely told by Schirra that there would be no TV show that day.  Eventually, they did broadcast from space  several times with the first live TV down-link from space with the crew appearing to have great fun as they managed to hide their discomfort from the world-wide audience. Schirra even shouted “Yabbadabbadoo!” like Fred Flintstone.  But, the colds persisted and the  complaints continued even as they prepared for their return.  They feared that they would not be able to blow their noses during the re-entry process and that pressure build-up might cause their eardrums to burst.  Therefore, the crew refused to wear their helmets as they returned to earth.   Once again, Slayton tried to convince Schirra to wear the helmet and once again Schirra dug in his heels.  The crew took decongestants and returned to earth safely without any problems with their ears.

There Might Not Have Been An Apollo 11 Success Story of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins Had It Not Been for Apollo 7

Schirra was a space veteran and hero and undoubtedly he was in a good spot to receive a mission to the moon.  Cunningham and Eisele would also have certainly merited consideration considering the technical success of their dangerous and imperative mission.  Nevertheless, Flight Director Chris Kraft wrote in his 2001 memoir that “I told Deke (Slayton) that this crew should never fly again.”  None of the men of Apollo 7 did go into space following their return.  Cunningham described himself as “NASA Hero, Second Class” in his book,  a reference to the lesser honor bestowed on the crew and their subsequent unofficial grounding.  But, in 2008, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin looked back at the accomplishments of the Apollo 7 crew and, while acknowledging the decisions by his predecessors, decided that the crew deserved more.  So, on October 20, 2008, Forty years after flying NASA’s first manned Apollo mission, the crew of Apollo 7 was honored  with the space agency’s highest award, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.  Schirra and Eisele had both passed away at the time of the ceremony but my old neighbor Walter Cunningham was on hand as was Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr and Neil A. Armstrong, the first men on the moon as well as fellow lunar astronaut Alan Bean.  By video link, the crew of the International Space Station attended and video tributes were received from President George H. W. Bush, Wayne Newton and Houston Mayor Bill White.  Everyone acknowledges that the space program may never have gotten off the ground successfully following the Apollo 1 disaster had it not been for the bravery and efforts of Wally Schirra, Walter Cunningham and  Donn Eisele…not matter how “grumpy” they were.

Weather Bottom Line:  Our best and only chance of rain in the forseeable future will be on Wednesday with the passage of a cold front.  It’s not a huge chance and won’t be a drought buster but we need all we can get as we will return to exceedingly dry, but lovely, conditions for the rest of the week through the weekend.

Iraq 1st Gained Independence 5 years Before Saddam Was Born
October 3, 2010

Nuns Who Could Make Sally Field Proud Were On Hand in Baghdad For Iraq's Independence in 1932

1922 British Press Viewed Iraq much as Press of 2002

On This Date in History:  For most Americans, Iraq didn’t become a focus of attention until the latter part of the 20th century.  But, the modern history of Iraq really has its roots in the early part of the century.  During and prior to World War I, the region was ruled by the Ottoman Empire.  At the conclusion of the Great War, the League of Nations was formed as a governing political body in an effort to avoid further global conflicts.  As part of the Armistice of World War I, Germany was to pay reparations to her former enemies.  Today, October 3, 2010, Germany is scheduled to make its final World War I payment 92 years after the war ended.   The League of Nations was weakened from the outset, however, when the United States Senate did not ratify the treaty that would have put the US into the league even though the very concept was the brainchild of President Wilson.  There was fear that the US was ceding sovereignty to the league and, specifically, Article 10 raised objections as it seemed to signal that all members would come to the defense of any nation who came under attack.  American isolationism was growing.  Nevertheless, in 1920, the League of Nations granted Britain a mandate for administrative rule over the Basra, Baghdad and Mosul provinces of the former Ottoman Empire.

King Faisal 1st of Iraq crowned by Brits in 1932

Now, the Turks were not stupid when it came to running the Ottoman Empire for some 500 or 600 years.  They knew how to control locals and so they had purposely kept the three regions seperate.  On a map, the three looked very compatable but, in fact, the folks in each region were not too enthused with one another.  The most populous region was in the South where the Shiites held a vast majority.  In the Central area, Sunni’s ruled the roost while in the North, Kurds were the dominant group.  The issues relating to these three areas for the Turks were the same issues that faced the British.  But, England thought it had a better plan and it decided to create a kingdom made up of all three regions.  On the throne was placed Amir Faisal ibn Hussain, who naturally was allied with the British.  He had fought an uprising along side Lawrence of Arabia  (T.E. Lawrence) against the Ottomans and had proved his friendliness with the British as he did so.  Faisal, though, proved to be a divider more than a uniter as he ruled with an iron fist and was particularly oppressive to the Shiite population.  Though the Shiites represented a very large, if not outright majority, of the populous but was given almost no role in the government.

Michel Aflaq and Salah Bitar founded the Baath Party

In August 1932, Iraq became part of the League of Nations and shortly thereafter, on this Date in 1932, Britain granted Iraq its independence with roots of dissent already firmly anchored.  Stability also was undermined when Faisal died about a year after he took the throne.   Almost immediately, two political parties rose to the forefront.  The Communist Party had the backing of the Soviet Union while the Baath Party took the form of a Facist organization with great similarity to the growing Nazi Party in Germany.  Unlike the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, Baathist ideals have no relation to religion at all but instead is based on political ideology.  Despite the unrest, the monarchy managed to hang on through strong military and political ties to Great Britain.  In 1941, pro-Axis (Germany, Italy, Japan) sentiments grew so rampant in Iraq that Great Britain intervened and help the Iraqi government to maintain support for the Allies in the war.  Following the war, the UK was severely weakened and its influence waned.  The dissent in Iraq was allowed to flourish until 1958 when the monarchy was overthrown. 

When we last saw Saddam...

For the next two decades, the state was quite unstable as a series of civilian and military governments came and went until  1979 when Saddam Hussein rose to power.  Saddam was born in 1937, or 5 years after Iraq officially gained independence.  He first joined the Baath Party two years before the end of the monarchy and even participated in a failed coup attempt in 1956.  In 1960, he was involved in a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister of Iraq but, after it was foiled, he fled the country.  The Baath Party took the helm in 1963 and Saddam returned.  When they fell out of favor a few months later, Hussein was thrown in jail. When the Bath Party staged a successful coup in 1968, Saddam was out of the clink again and was given a spot on the Revolutionary Command Council.  He was more or less the power behind the curtain until he came out of the shadows to take control as President in 1979.  As a Baathist, he used repressive and violent means to rule the country and suppress any opposition.  Saddam ruled Iraq until 2003 when the United States invaded the country and sent Saddam to rule another world after a visit with the hangman. 

1930's Cartoon Might Suggest History Repeats Itself for Some, But It's Not Necessarily An Accurate Notion

While the adage that history repeats itself is rather well known, the truth is that history is not prescriptive.  Just because a certain series of events occured in the past does not mean that the same will happen again.  The geopolitical climate of the early 20th century is not the same as it is in the early 21st century.  Nevertheless, the Kurds in the North, the Sunnis around Baghdad in the Central area and Shiites in the South remain at odds as the United States tries to give Iraq full independence.  The history of Iraq is a fairly substantial reason for a skeptical approach to viewing the future of Iraq.   However, globalization and more expansive travel and communications such as the internet, cell phones and satellite television could conceivably prove to the be the big difference maker for the independence of Iraq today and the independence of 1932.  

Weather Bottom Line:  We had a good start today.  Then a little vort lobe rotated through.  That would be an extended pool of cold air aloft..that ran over warm air from daytime heating.  Result: clouds, a little rain and chilly temperatures.  Snow White was well prepared for the St. James Art Show on Saturday but I forgot how chilly the 50’s could be the first time out of the shoot and I was not enthused.  My feet were cold and I was miserable and that only hastened my foul mood of the late afternoon knowing that the ‘Horns would lose to the dreaded Sooners.  OU tried to give it to them and Texas still coughed it up.  Anyway, we’ll stay relatively cool for the next 48 hours with perhaps an errant shower on Sunday with another little lobe rotating around.  No big deal though.  We start a warming trend for the week ahead with a return to the low 80’s by the end of the week.

Mexico City Shook To Its Foundation 25 Years Ago; It will Probably Happen Again
September 19, 2010


Original City Was Literally on Lake Texcoco

On This Date in History:  Mexico City has an interesting history.  It is built on the ancient Aztec City of  Tenochtitilan which was built as a water based society really on top of Lake Texcoco through the use of chinampas or water gardens.  When the Spanish showed up in the early 16th century, they eventually conquored the Aztecs and decided that this big lake just would not do.  Lake Texcoco was an enclosed lake and tended to flood the city and beside that it impaired their use of horses.  So, they began projects to drain the lake.  Well, in 1519 the city had 250, 000 inhabitants which was a lot of folks when one considers that London had about 200,000 people and Madrid about 64,000 around the same time.  By the turn of the 20th century, Mexico City still had about the same population that it had in 1519 but by 1953, the city’s population had mushroomed to over 3 million and the area went from 29 square miles to about 150.  Much of the expanded city was on the dry lake bed of Lake Texcoco.   By 1996, Mexico City covered 870 square miles and was home for about 17 million people. 

15 Story Steel Reinforced Nuevo Leon Building Collapsed

Now, with the lake gone and the population rising, water became scarce so they started drilling wells on the old lake bed for water.  The result of the extraction of groundwater has been some serious subsidence.  Beyond that, an old lake bed is not a very stable geological formation on which to build a city.  It has the ability to jiggle alot when shaken.  That makes Mexico City one of the most vulnerable cities in the world when it comes to earthquakes.  On this date in 1985 an earthquake registering 8.0 on the richter scale shook Mexico City and the surrounding region.  The earthquake struck at about 7:17:47 AM on September 19, 1985 releasing about 5.61 x 1024 ergs (10 to the power of 24) or about 19 kilotons of TNT which was about twice as much energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.   It was the greatest earthquake event in Mexico since the Great Jalisco Earthquake of 1932.  The geology of the former lake bed is suspected to have contributed to great resonance effects with dominant two second horizontal ground accelerations that were recorded in the area.  The epicenter of the quake was relatively shallow but was 300 km away from Mexico City which is pretty far away in relation to the damage.   Evidence supporting the assertion that the physical characteristics of the earth around Mexico City contributed to the extreme effects is the fact that a large percent of the building damaged or destroyed were between 8 and 18 stories high.  Think of it has buiding a house on jello.   

Steel Reinforced Concrete Suarez Apartments Couldn't Stand

The earthquake was felt as far north as Houston, Texas and as far northwest as El Paso, Texas and all the way in Tuscon, AZ a swimming pool at the University of Arizona lost water due to the sloshing from the vibration.  To the west, a tsunami was generated that was about 3 meters high at Zihuatenejo and 1.4 meters at Acapulco.  That tsunami resonated across the Pacific to Hawaii and even a 5 cm rise was recorded at Tahiti.  An aftershock of magnitude 7.5 on Sept 21 caused a second tsunami, though some geologists suspect that this was a separate earthquake rather than an aftershock.  That is something for academics to argue about because it really makes little difference.  The damage was horrific.  Obviously, severe damage was experienced in Mexico City and the death toll has been pegged in excess of 9500 with some estimates of fatalities approaching 35, 000.  At the time, Mexico City probably had about 15 million people so, when you think about it, the percentage of fatalities vs the total population was pretty small…but when you are talking about such huge numbers. small percentages can translate into large numbers of people.   Like the fatality totals, total casualties may never be known for certain but injuries numbered at least 30,000 and some 100,000 people were left homeless.  412 buildings collapsed and 3124 were severely damaged in Mexico City.  The earthquake affected about 825,000 square miles.  Damage was caused across Central Mexico from Lazaro Cardenas on the Pacific Coast to Vera Cruz on the Gulf Coast. 

Ruins of the Hotel Regis

An interesting aspect of this event was that, initially, the political power of the country said it didn’t need  any help.  The Revolutionary Party had been in power for so long that it was considered by many to be an institution.  But, many political analysts suggest that the governmental early rejection of foreign aid led to the downfall of the Revolutionary Party.  A number of rather somber ceremonies were held today to commemorate what happened in Mexico City 25 years ago with civic memorial services as well as Roman Catholic Masses conducted to remember the dead.  At the location of the Hotel Regis, patrol cars and ambulances lined the streets and turned on their sirens to mark the time of the quake.  That was a particularly imfamous building collapse as shortly following the hotel’s demise, a gas leak fed a fire that made it quite difficult to try to rescue anyone who may have survived.

Notice the Uprooted Foundation of this 8 story building that split in two

The really sad thing is that this type of catostrophe will probably happen again.  When the Spanish first conquored the city they considered moving it but chose not to do so.  The center of the city is really pretty close to the center of the old lake bed and that lake bed has a relatively high water content.  Hence, when there is considerable shaking then liquification of the sediment takes place making it unsuitable to support large structures.  The same thing happened in the landfill areas around San Francisco Bay in the 1991 earthquake there.  In California, there is the San Andreas Fault which makes that part of the US susceptable to earthquakes but Mexico is extremely vulnerable as there’s a lot of constant friction between the North American Plate, the Cocos Plate and the Pacific Plate.  It’s one of the more seismically active regions of the world with some 90 temblors of maginitude 4.o of more recorded on average each year.  Not only is the region active and the dry lakebed not overly stable, the lakebed also has a natural harmonic pitch of about 2.5 which means everything on the lakebed shakes at the same frequency and it just happens that 2.5 is a very common frequency of shallow earthquakes.  Mexico City is kinda like New Orleans, or Los Angeles or Pompeii or Seattle or any of a number of large, urban environments that are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters that have come in the past and will come again in the future.  It’s just part of the risk of living on an active planet.

Typhoon Fanapi Set To Strike Taiwan Before Weekend is Over
September 18, 2010

Click on Image for Most Recent Western Pacific Rainbow IR Image Loop

Typhoon Fanapi Forecast Track as per Joint Typhoon Warning Center

The people in Taiwan are anticipating the arrival of Typhoon Finapi.  Among other things, it is disrupting the fishing season that just started at the beginning of the month.  Perhaps more importantly, the Typhoon is packing winds that will cause concern for damage and a potentially devastaing surge.  However, the actual surge is determined by geograhpical features of the island as well as the physical features of the shelf and I am not aware of the physical features around Taiwan.  I cannot find any buoys in the region that are in operating condition but reports of 28 foot seas have been made.   While the forward speed of around 12 mph might limit the storm surge potential to a small degree, winds running at 105 kts (120 mph) will be sufficient to push a substantial amount of water up to the right of landfall.  Typhoon Fanapi’s intensity puts it as an equivalent of a category 3 hurricane.   Beyond the wind and surge threat, the topography of the island will serve to enhance rain totals and authorities are expecting up to 20 inches in some areas.  With a storm travelling around 10 mph, Typhoon conditions can be expected in several parts of the island for up to 8-12 hours.

Total Precipitable Water-Click on Image For Most Recent Loop

When you look at the satellite imagery, you find that Finapi is a well formed, compact tropical cyclone but the outflow to the north is almost absent while there remains some outflow to the south.  There is a big fat high to the north of the cyclone that is inhibiting the poleward outflow which may have inhibited the storm from becoming even more intense.   The central pressure of 935 mb has the potential to support winds higher than previous estimates.  Nevertheless, tropical storm force winds extend up to 150 miles from the center and typhoon winds some 35 to 40 miles from the center of circulation.   I suspect that there is the possibility that this storm may be getting slightly more intense as it approaches Taiwan for landfall as it appears that Fanapi has completed an eyewall replacement cycle.  An eyewall replacement cycle is a natural occurence related to a well developed tropical cyclone and typically, the maximum winds decrease as the storm goes through the cycle of replacing an eyewall, though the overall strong windfield expands.  Once the cycle is complete, then the storm returns to its previous intensity.  Hence, the satellite imagery suggests that the cycle is complete and Fanapi may be ramping up toward maximum potential just prior to landfall.

Fanapi IR Satellite 09.18.10 1732Z

For what it’s worth, Fanapi is the Micronesian name for “sandy islands” and it is expected to continue on its track generally to the west at around 10 kts and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center Forecasts points  to a landfall about 70 miles SSE of Taipei near the coastal town of Hualien.  Geographically speaking, it seems to me that the little bay to the north of Hualien may be vulnerable to an enhanced surge.  Once the storm makes landfall, the topographical features of Taiwan will disrupt the storm sufficiently that it will fall to below 100 kts when it re-emerges over the Taiwan Straits and will move into China within 36 hours with winds of around 80 to 85 kts about 150 miles Northeast of Hong Kong.  Inland flooding will be a concern for China as the storm dissipates, particularly when one considers that China has experienced flooding problems all summer long in many parts of the huge nation.