Dangerous Storms Spin Over Both Sides of the Pacific


GREENBELT, Maryland, October 19, 2009 (ENS) – Powerful tropical cyclones have developed on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, according to NASA satellite data, and the governments of Mexico and the Philippines.

Both storms are reflected in satellite data taken by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, TRMM, satellite, a joint mission of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Japanese space agency JAXA. The satellite has the capability to measure rainfall from space.

“In the western Pacific Super Typhoon Lupit is threatening the northern Philippines within the next three days,” reports Hal Pierce of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which manages the TRMM satellite program.

On Sunday, the TRMM satellite sent back data showing that Lupit was a Category 4 super typhoon with wind speeds of about 132 knots (152 mph) and a well defined eye with heavy rainfall.

This will be the third deadly typhoon to hit the Philippines in less than a month. A combined total of over 800 deaths have been attributed to Typhoon Ketsana that hit in late September and Typhoon Parma that struck the Philippines on October3 and lingered for a week.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has ordered the “pre-positioning” of relief goods and medical supplies in calamity-prone areas in case Typhoon Lupit, known locally as Ramil, hits the country.

President Arroyo also has ordered pre-emptive evacuations of the cities of Guagua and Lubao in Pampanga province.

“It is important to conduct pre-emptive evacuation procedures in areas that will be hit if and when Typhoon Ramil crosses the Philippines,” the President told Guagua Mayor Ricardo Rivera.

At the same time, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico, Hurricane Rick formed up as a Category Five hurricane on Sunday with wind speeds of about 155 knots (178 mph).

Hurricane Rick approaches the Baja Peninsula and western Mexico (Image courtesy NASA)

NASA’s Aqua satellite’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument captured Hurricane Rick’s thunderstorm cloud-top temperatures and confirmed that they were very high, powerful thunderstorms within the storm.

Rick is predicted by the National Hurricane Center in Miami to weaken to a Category One hurricane and pass over the Baja Peninsula within 48 hours.

By 11 am EDT today, Hurricane Rick’s maximum sustained winds had decreased to 115 mph. At five this afternoon, Rick was located 305 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas. Rain associated with Rick is already falling across parts of southern Baja California and northwestern Mexico.

Total rainfall of four to six inches, with isolated amounts of 10 inches, are possible over the southern tip of the Baja peninsula and the states of Sinaloa and Durange, Mexico during the next few days, says the National Hurricane Center, adding, “These rains could result in “life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.”

Hurricane Rick has forced at least eight cruise ships heading to Mexico to change course to avoid the storm.

Forecasters expect Rick’s center will be near the southern Baja California late Tuesday or early Wednesday, however, gusty winds and rains from Rick will be felt there before then.

Rick is already generating large ocean swells and these swells will continue to hit parts of the southern Baja coast and west-central coast of Mexico through Tuesday, causing potentially dangerous surf conditions.

The government of Mexico has issued a Hurricane Watch for the southern coast of the Baja Peninsula, including Cabo San Lucas.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.

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