Super Typhoon Surigae went from a Category 1 storm on Friday to a Category 5 beast monster on Saturday.
Why it matters: This storm – known as Typhoon Bising in the Philippines – is just the latest of many tropical cyclones to go through a process known as rapid intensification. Studies show that it is becoming more common due to climate change. It weakened slightly on Sunday, which equates to a strong Category 4 storm.
- The storm set a record for the strongest tropical cyclone in April anywhere in the northern hemisphere.
- The storm will repeat itself on the sea northeast of the Philippines to save the disaster-prone land from the worst, but it will bring heavy rains, open seas and gusty winds in some areas.
- It can also help shake things up Weather patterns far downstream, including across North America, for the next several weeks.
Details: The storm peaked at the upper end of the scale according to techniques used by meteorologists to estimate storm intensity via satellites and scored an 8 out of 8 on a given metric, which is unusual.
- Remarkable: Since planes don’t fly in typhoons in the Western Pacific as they do in the Atlantic, we may never know how powerful Super Typhoon Surigae was, and it is possible the 300 km / h intensity was underestimated.
By the numbers: The storm is the first Category 5 tropical cyclone (a category that includes hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones) to occur in 2021. Typically around 18 Category 4 and 5 storms occur around the world each year.
- The storm jumped 24 hours later from a Category 1 storm at 90 mph to a Category 5 super typhoon at 180 mph, an astounding intensification rate more than double the criteria for fast intensification. The storm continued to intensify through Saturday evening to an estimated maximum sustained wind of 190 mph.
Satellite-based intensity estimate graph of Super Typhoon Surigae, including the sharp jump over the past 24 hours. Graphic: University of Wisconsin / CIMSS
These messages drive: The number of high-end tropical cyclones is increasing as the world continues to warm.
- Projections show that future hurricane seasons in the Atlantic, for example, could cause a greater proportion of Category 4 and 5 storms, although it is not yet clear whether the total number of storms will increase.
- There is evidence, including the record 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, that more storms in the North Atlantic Basin are rapidly intensifying, which can be extremely dangerous if the intensity increases near the country.
- Super typhoons like Surigae feed on warm seawater and humid air masses, both of which are increasingly common as sea and air temperatures warm in response to human-made global warming.
The bottom line: Super Typhoon Surigae passes east of the Philippines on Sunday and is close enough to bring dangerously high surf, heavy rain, and gusty winds to the eastern and northeastern parts of the country, including the eastern Visayas and Bicol regions.