Pacific Super Typhoon Hinnamnor Becomes Strongest Storm of 2022



The Atlantic may be ending its calmest August in 25 years, but the strongest tropical system of 2022 is raging in the Pacific Northwest. Super Typhoon Hinnamnor, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, is about to hit one or more islands in Japan.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds Tuesday afternoon Eastern Time were estimated at around 160 mph by the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center, which calls it a rare super typhoon. Gusts of 190 mph were likely in the eyewall, the ring of damaging winds around the center of the calm storm. The central storm was located about 400 miles south-southeast of the Japanese island of Kyushu and was moving west at 19 mph.

Typhoons in the Pacific Northwest are no different from hurricanes in the Atlantic; they’re just called different things. To become a “super typhoon”, a storm must reach sustained winds of at least 150 mph.

The Atlantic is warming, with the formation of a tropical storm expected this week

As Hinnamnor heads west, the main body of Japan is not yet under watch or warning, but storm and high wave warnings have been lifted for the Daito Islands southeast of Okinawa, which are home to approximately 2,100 residents. The two small populated islands, Minamidaitojima and Kitadaitojimasit about 200 feet above sea level at their highest point and are made from limestone that has accumulated on top of ancient coral reefs.

The center of the storm is expected to pass 93 miles south of Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa Wednesday at 7 p.m. local time, producing up to 5 to 6 inches of rain and wind gusts up to 69 mph, according to stars and stripes.

It’s unclear how close the storm will get to Japan’s most densely populated islands, or how the storm could possibly influence the weather in North America.

On Tuesday, Japan’s Himawari-8 satellite captured eerie views from above as the atmospheric hum crawled west. The storm was a rather compact “annular cyclone,” characterized by an intense band of convection, or thunderstorm activity, surrounding a hollowed-out eye. Most mature hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical cyclones exhibit a spiral of arcing squall lines and centrally feeding rain bands. Annular cyclones have a tighter maximum wind radius and are more symmetrical, which helps them maintain their ferocity.

On the outskirts of the typhoon, tall, thin, wispy cirrus clouds can be seen on a satellite radiating from the center. This marks the exit or escape at high altitude when the “spent” air expands away from the storm. The more air that has already been treated by a storm, the more the internal atmospheric pressure can drop. This means that the storm can in turn ingest more moisture-rich surface air in contact with the ocean. This fuels its sustenance or intensification.

Hinnamnor will likely maintain strength for a day or two before modest weakening is possible.

Either way, it’s already the strongest storm to hit Earth this year, and it could be very problematic wherever it hits. In fact, it’s still expected to be at least a Category 3 storm in five days.

It appears that Hinnamnor may bend slightly to the south, suppressed by high pressure to the north. This will probably keep its center just south of Okinawa Island, but either way it’s far too close for comfort. The Japanese islands of Miyakojima, Tarama and Ishigaki appear to be at higher risk, with the closest crossing likely being Friday or Saturday.

By then it will likely weaken a bit, and it could weaken to a low-end Category 3 or Category 4 storm, but a severe impact is still expected. Weather models diverge markedly in their simulations thereafter, but agree on the same basic principle: a low pressure system approaching to the northwest will help move Hinnamnor north.

The US model (GFS) then suggests that Hinnamnor will crash early next week into South Korea, which suffered disastrous flooding just three weeks ago. The European pattern favors a somewhat weaker Hinnamnor crossing over southern Japan with hurricane-force winds and heavy rain.

Unfortunately, it looks like either scenario will continue to deprive China of significant rainfall. The country has faced a scorching heat wave and brutal drought that is wreaking havoc on agricultural production.

There is a remote possibility that Hinnamnor’s eventual absorption into a mid-latitude low pressure system in seven to 10 days could bend the jet stream enough to even influence North American weather in the next two to three weeks. . Imagine throwing a stone into a gently flowing stream. This rock would affect the flow around it, causing ripples downstream. The crests and troughs of these undulations are analogous to high and low pressure systems. The details of how such a chain reaction may unfold remains to be seen.

Hinnamnor’s fit of fury comes amid an unusually quiet season for tropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere. So far, tropical storm activity in the hemisphere is only about 53% of average, with half the number of major hurricane-force systems expected.

In the meantime, meteorologists are also watching closely for a system in the Atlantic that will likely become Danielle and could run at hurricane strength next week. All indications point to it heading out to sea and sparing the United States, although it might be something to watch for Bermuda.

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