Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tropical Storm Saola (Gener) Update #2

Note: For the latest Video Update posted an hour ago, please click HERE

Saola has intensified over the past 6 hours and is now a Tropical Storm. TS Saola with a local name of 'Bagyong Gener' was last located approximately 280km northwest of Virac, Catanduanes. Maximum sustained winds are now at 65kph with gusts of up to 95kph. Saola is currently moving to the northwest at 15kph.

As of 5pm this afternoon, PAGASA has raised Public Storm Warning Signal #1 to the provinces of Isabela, Cagayan, Calayan, Batanes, and Babuyan Group of Islands. While these areas are not yet getting severe weather from Saola, widespread rains and strong winds will eventually move in here as the storm tracks to the northwest.

IR Image from NRLMRY

Latest satellite image shows the broad circulation of Saola with strong convective activity occurring right over the center. For the most part, much of the stormy weather is located offshore. For Southern and Central Luzon, scattered thunderstorms and rainshowers are forming, although these are not widespread. The combined effects of the monsoon and the moisture feeding into Saola are bringing widespread rains across Visayas and Northern Mindanao; many areas here are reporting rainfall amounts of 40 to 80mm. Sometimes, strong thunderstorms are embedded along these bands which can bring severe weather and even the potential for some tornadoes. In fact, a twister touched down in Bohol yesterday damaging 70 houses.

Forecast Track (NOT OFFICIAL!)

Current forecasts from numerous agencies are tracking Saola towards Taiwan early next week. There are still some uncertainties however and the forecasting philosophy basically hinges on the Subtropical Ridge east of China. This feature is what's steering Saola right now and depending on the strength of this ridge, the storm could move towards Luzon Strait or towards Taiwan. Right now, while most agencies are bringing Saola to the Taiwan area, our forecast is taking Saola across Luzon Strait by Tuesday. Please keep in mind that this is NOT AN OFFICIAL FORECAST. However, our idea is somewhat supported by a number of computer models, particularly the ECMWF. Again, the key here is the strength of the ridge because that will be the main factor for Saola's forecast track.

As for the intensity, many models and agencies agree on a continuous intensification as it moves east of Luzon. In fact, we expect Saola to become a typhoon as early as Monday night. Weak wind shear and warm sea surface temperatures abound all the way to Taiwan. And while it's not forecast to make landfall in Luzon, residents especially along the Eastern Seaboard are advised to continue monitoring the system for any latest changes in the track as well as warnings from PAGASA.

Tropical Depression 95W

Just a quick update on 95W. The system remains weak as it struggles to fight strong westerly wind shear. The system is still located well to the east of Iwo To and is moving slowly to the west. JMA is still expecting the system to become a Tropical Storm and JTWC has issued a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert indicating a HIGH chance of tropical development for 95W. Computer models are also forecasting this depression to consolidate and slowly intensify eventually moving towards the Japanese Islands by the middle of next week.

We'll have another update tomorrow morning.
Issued (1030 UTC) 630pm PhT 072812

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