Fengshen: deadliest Western Pacific storm in 17 years

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:19 PM GMT on June 24, 2008

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Typhoon Fengshen may be the deadliest Pacific tropical cyclone since 1991. The death toll in the Philippines now stands at 598 dead or missing on land, with another 800 missing and presumed dead in the wake of the sinking of the ferry MV Princess of Stars. Fengshen (the Mandarin Chinese name for the God of Wind) made landfall over the northern Philippines Saturday, triggering rains and landslides that destroyed 34,000 buildings and damaged 53,000 more, causing an estimated $100 million in damage. According to typhoon2000.com, the Philippines' deadliest tropical cyclones were Tropical Storm Thelma of 1991 (5101 dead) and Typhoon Ike of 1984 (1363 dead). Left off the list was Tropical Depression Winnie, which killed 1404 people in the Philippines November 29-20, 2004. It appears likely that the death toll from Fengshen will exceed Winnie's, making Fengshen the deadliest Western Pacific tropical cyclone since 1991's Tropical Storm Thelma.


Figure 1.The ferry MV Princess of Stars. Image credit: Sulpicio Lines.

The ferry and the forecast
The ferry MV Princess of Stars (Figure 1), operated by Sulpicio Lines, left the capital of Manila on Friday night before the storm, headed south for the 20-hour run to Cebu. At the time, Fengshen was a Category 1 typhoon, headed due west, and was located a few hundred miles south of the ship. As the ferry began passing through the outer spiral bands of Fengshen, the storm did a sharp (and poorly forecast) turn to the north-northwest and began a burst of rapid intensification to strong Category 2 status (110 mph winds), bringing very high waves and much higher than anticipated winds to the region the ferry was traversing. The waves battered the ship to the point where the engines stalled, and the ferry lay helpless until the strongest portion of the storm, the northern eyewall, passed over the ship and sank it. Why the ferry allowed itself to get so close to the storm in the first place is a mystery.


Figure 2.Visible satellite image of Fengshen at 4:55 GMT June 21, 2008, 25 minutes after radio contact was lost with the ferry MV Princess of Stars. The ship had left Manila in the Philippines about 8 hours prior to the accident for the 20 hour trip to Cebu. It appears that the ferry ran into the north eyewall of Fengshen when it was at peak intensity, with sustained winds of 110 mph. Fengshen was headed due west when the ferry set sail (track image, lower left), then made a sudden, poorly forecast turn to the north-northwest as the ferry approached the typhoon. Image credit: NASA.

Tropical Atlantic
There are currently no threat areas in the Atlantic to discuss. One computer model, the GFS, is forecasting a disturbed area of low pressure may form the the southern Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche on Sunday. The other models don't see this happening, and instead put the focus of any development on the Pacific side of Mexico early next week. At present, this seems a more reasonable forecast.

Jeff Masters

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451. TerraNova
12:06 PM GMT on June 25, 2008
TerraNova, the is what the climate models have been preaching when they said above-average precipitation in the Tropical Atlantic. There aren't any other systems that can produce that anomalously above-average precipitation in that region at this time of year.

That would make sense. So according to the climate models sooner or later we're going to see a tropical cyclone move through this area.

I just took a look at the 00z ECMWF...it has a low in much of the same area and time frame as the GFS (I guess it's trying to catch on to the July 2 storm) but not nearly as intense.
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
450. Drakoen
12:03 PM GMT on June 25, 2008
TerraNova, the is what the climate models have been preaching when they said above-average precipitation in the Tropical Atlantic. There aren't any other systems that can produce that anomalously above-average precipitation in that region at this time of year.
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449. TerraNova
12:01 PM GMT on June 25, 2008
06z:
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448. TerraNova
11:42 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
GFS 00z run showing an active TRPL ATL. I've marked the dates at which the GFS forms a closed low with these systems in the EATL for your reference. Again the GFS featuring a big pattern change.

Wow! Three tropical storms lining up behind each other was definitely not what I expected to see looking at the 00z GFS.

The new 06z GFS drops the second storm (the one marked 7/7/08) but has a monster African wave ejecting off the coast around the 30th, intensifying to a 1006mb low then drifting off to sea, followed by another monster wave ejecting around July 4. Obviously a big pattern change here but of course I'd like to see what the other long range models (ECMWF specifically) want to say about this.
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447. JRRP
11:48 AM GMT on Junio 25, 2008
At least the GFS 06z run showing TS in 144h
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446. Drakoen
11:47 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
445. stoormfury 11:46 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
morning
DRAK
It looks like we will be getting an early July start. consisentency is what the GFS needs. ARE there any Global Models latching on to the formation of a cyclone next week


None of the other models show that. The UKMET shows something closed at 850mb but nothing at the surface.
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445. stoormfury
11:40 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
morning
DRAK
It looks like we will be getting an early July start. consisentency is what the GFS needs. ARE there any Global Models latching on to the formation of a cyclone next week
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443. Drakoen
11:35 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
We'll have to see if the GFS can stay consistent on the feature.
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441. TheWeatherMan504
10:47 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
im thinking 3-5 with one of those being a cape verde hurricane.

Hurricane Ivan 9/11/04 near Jamaica
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439. JRRP
10:45 AM GMT on Junio 25, 2008
435
Apparently the systems will go to the Carib
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438. crownwx
5:47 AM EDT on June 25, 2008
Here are my latest thoughts:
The tropical Atlantic remains quiet this morning. Satellite imagery, wind shear analysis and the overall surface weather map continues to indicate that tropical cyclone development is not expected for at least the next few days. The low pressure system that the GFS model was forecasting to develop in the western Gulf of Mexico has shifted westward into the eastern Pacific. Meaning, all of the models are forecasting tropical development in the eastern Pacific by this weekend, which I do agree with.

Now, the GFS model is forecasting development of a low pressure system near the west coast of Africa on Monday and tracks it westward through the eastern Atlantic next week. It should be noted that the tropical disturbances have been very strong coming off of Africa over the past few weeks and the sea surface temperatures near the African coast are abnormally warm. It should also be noted that the European model forecasts an area of low pressure to form off of the African coast around the middle part of next week. So, this scenario will be watched for closely and I will be comparing the model outputs to what is actually happening in real-time. So this scenario will be watched over the coming days and I will keep you all updated.

In conclusion, tropical cyclone development is not expected through at least Friday or Saturday.
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437. CybrTeddy
6:45 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
GFS has been predicting storms for the pass runs.
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436. Drakoen
6:11 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
417. Weather456 3:41 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
Enjoy Quiet June...This wave is rolling of near 10N as expected. Another August looking tropical wave.


I agree. This is just the calm before the storm.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 31628
435. Drakoen
6:03 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
GFS 00z run showing an active TRPL ATL. I've marked the dates at which the GFS forms a closed low with these systems in the EATL for your reference. Again the GFS featuring a big pattern change.
Photobucket
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 31628
434. ycd0108
4:53 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
Eyewitness report: Fengshen:
How are you? hope everything is ok. right now i am still in batangas due to strong typhoon that hit manila and neighboring provinces plus batangas [signal no. 3]. early sunday morning at 4am,i was woke up caused of strong winds and heavy rains , noise coming from the galvanized roof iron which is almost flying out and rain a lot, so the next day winds and rain continue hit metro manila ,power cut also maybe electrical post are swinging around too. that time i send sms to our professor asking if there's class and so he reply me saying how can we have a class on that situation. so no class on sunday. i am lucky to be home with my family.

i got some photos of my moms house and infront of the house that flooded on that time, at around 11am i decided to go to batangas taking a chance that there's a trip going home. no jeep there's a taxi but always asking where i'm headed to. finally i take a bus at 12nn and arrived in batangas at 4pm in the afternoon, it's rain all the way to batangas, and arlyn send me sms that all the vegetable that she has was damage , i got some picture of that and will send you later on .

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433. MasterForecaster
4:38 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
/
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432. weatherblog
4:20 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
Well, right now, as Skyepony pointed out, the high would currently steer anything into Central America- similar to last year. And, if I'm correct, 2004 did not have have a set up like this at all- it was actually quite the oppisite.

Some storms in 2004 actually recurved ending up being a fish-storm (Karl and Lisa). A few managed to not recurve (Charley, Ivan, Frances). So, it is still questionable if we will have storms hit the United States even if we have a year like 2004.
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431. Tazmanian
9:08 PM PDT on June 24, 2008
right sky

and i would not want to have any thing in the gulf right now with this and its not too far a way from land too

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430. Skyepony (Mod)
3:56 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
Taz~ With that current Central America looks at biggest risk to me, like a Dean or Felix track. CMC was showing one last week when it got a little excited with the then Central Atlantic wave. Makes sense with La Nina & that is a typical La Nina set up. As ENSO warms It opens the gulf & FL more. But then again it only takes bad timing & a trough like Adrain pointed out to change that current & lead one up this way.
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429. Tazmanian
8:59 PM PDT on June 24, 2008
if that high where to stay there


that would not be good set up at all for any one oh lives in TX and LA watch out

you may has well draw a big red dot right a LA has you can see any thing that gets in the gulf would take it right in too LA or TX
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428. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
3:55 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
looks like the high is near 30N 55W (1028 hPa) HIGH.. pribably stay there through November
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427. JRRP
3:43 AM GMT on Junio 25, 2008
mmmmmmm
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426. 0741
3:48 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
i hearing some here say we could see active topic in first week of july? that be round four of july
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425. Tazmanian
8:49 PM PDT on June 24, 2008
for the ones oh miss it


WOW-UN OH


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424. Tazmanian
8:48 PM PDT on June 24, 2008
the olny thing we need to find out is what the set up will be with the big H this year
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423. Tazmanian
8:47 PM PDT on June 24, 2008
yup
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422. Weather456
11:44 PM AST on June 24, 2008
418. presslord 11:44 PM AST on June 24, 2008
as these waves role off the African coast...Do they cause much problems/damage over there?


Maybe from thunderstorms but rarely any damage, they are just like afternoon thunderstorms; some of these waves are barely associated with 20+ knot winds.
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421. Skyepony (Mod)
3:35 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
Josh305.. La niña has weakend. The conditions are actually near as negative nuetral as could be, only been that way for a few weeks now so over the last 3 month average technically still La Nina. Looking at the resent plumit in the ESPI~ may see La Nina conditions again. As quick as the east side has come up that should be short lived & more warming should be on the way. Alotta models were pointing to a strong El Nino but some since backed off.

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420. JLPR
3:43 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
whoaa thats one impressive wave =O oh boy if this wave train continues all the way into August we could have a problem in our hands =S
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419. Tazmanian
8:44 PM PDT on June 24, 2008
i am forcasting 4 name storms in july
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418. presslord
3:42 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
as these waves role off the African coast...Do they cause much problems/damage over there?
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417. Weather456
11:33 PM AST on June 24, 2008
Enjoy Quiet June...This wave is rolling of near 10N as expected. Another August looking tropical wave.

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416. yamil20
3:38 AM GMT on Junio 25, 2008
yes jfv
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415. taco2me61
3:31 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
0741:

I think we are going to have a few tropical waves come thru by then but you always need to watch the weather because it could change very quickly.... If you know what i mean....


Taco :0)
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414. 0741
1:56 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
i going tampa area for four of july should i be worry about topic?
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413. taco2me61
3:23 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
Vamil20

403 : His name is Dave Shartz thats if I spelled his name right..... But I like him too....




Taco:0)
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410. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:14 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
hgw remember the information is pre selected and distorded from the actual truth always was always will we are on a need to know basics and right now you dont need to know

dont forget the cherry on top of your icecream cone
they're payed to tell us as told
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409. Stormchaser2007
3:18 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
408. Nice analogy! gotta go get a paper bag......Ugh!
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407. presslord
3:15 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
my other fave is Alexandra Steele...sounds like a porn star name.....
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406. Josh305
3:14 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
Does anyone know how the la nina is now?
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405. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:08 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
jfv by mid july then be coming three at a time by
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404. Orcasystems
3:12 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
398. presslord 3:10 AM GMT on June 25, 2008 Hide this comment.
orca...What's the website for that race?
Action: | Ignore User


The race site is Link

I use this site for tracking
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403. yamil20
3:10 AM GMT on Junio 25, 2008
my favorite person on TWC is the guy that say "hello my friends" i dont remember what his name is
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402. Josh305
3:13 AM GMT on June 25, 2008
I've known Brian Norcross for 5 years now and I wish him the best. The work he and Max Mayfield will be doing on America's Emergency Network (http://emergency.info/) is very important.

Josh
Miami Beach
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