The Philippines is about to get the most unwelcome Christmas present imaginable: Super Typhoon Nock-ten

By Tom Yulsman | December 24, 2016 4:05 pm

Watch a dramatic animation of satellite images showing Super Typhoon Nock-ten exploding in strength and taking dead aim on the Philippines


An animation of images from the Himawari-8 satellite shows the evolution of Super Typhoon Nock-ten in the western Pacific over a 31-hour period between Dec. 23 and 24, 2016. Nighttime falls part of the way through the animation, and the screen goes dark. Make sure to keep watching. Overnight, the cyclone becomes much stronger and well-developed — as is evident when light returns and Nock-ten is visible again in the animation. (Source: CIRA/RAMMB)

Super Typhoon Nock-ten is swirling toward a Christmas Day landfall as a Category 3 or 4 storm on the Philippine island of Catanduanes. With winds gusting as high as about 140 miles per hour, Nock-ten could have a devastating impact.

After landfall, Nock-ten is forecast by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center  to churn westward and pass close to Manila on December 26. It should rake the city and the highly populous island of Luzon with heavy rainfall and sustained winds of about 90 miles per hour.

At the Category 6 blog, Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters reports:

The projected track and intensity of Nock-Ten over the Philippines are similar to that of Typhoon Rammasun of July 2014, which killed 106 people and did $871 million in damage to the country, making it the third costliest typhoon in Philippines’ history, behind Haiyan of 2013 ($2 billion) and Bopha of 2012 ($1 billion.)

Nock-ten is a rare bird — only seven typhoons ranking as Category 3 or higher are on record as striking the Philippines in December, according to Masters.

The western North Pacific has seen its share of strong typhoons in recent years. In 2015 in particular, tropical cyclone activity in the region — as measured by “accumulated cyclone energy,” or “ACE” —  was the most intense on record.

An extremely strong El Niño played the primary role in juicing up this cyclone activity. But human-caused global warming also raised the odds that 2015 would see such an intense cyclone season in the western North Pacific, according to a recent study published by the American Meteorological Society.

I’ll have more to say about this in a future post.


  • RealOldOne2

    Weather is not climate.

    “An extremely strong El Niño played the primary role in juicing up this cyclone activity.”
    Yes, and El Niños are natural weather/climate phenomena, releasing stored solar energy from the oceans into the atmosphere. There is no empirical evidence of any anthropogenic causation.

    “But human-caused global warming also raised the odds that 2015 would see such an intense cyclone season in the western North Pacific, according to a recent study published by the American Meteorological Society.”
    The paper in question, Zhang et al., (2016) did not empirically find any such thing. It was based on flawed, faulty climate models which can’t even project future global temperatures at even the 2% confidence levels. “we find that the continued warming stagnation of fifteen years, 1998-2012, is no longer consistent with model projections even at the 2% confidence level.” – vonStorch(2013) The “warming stagnation” is now nearly two decades long.

    Zhang(2016) states: “An extremely strong El Niño event developed in 2015. While there has been major progress in understanding of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-WNP ACE association, the modulation of WNP ACE by anthropogenic forcing is still a challenging scientific question (e.g., Emmanuel 2013; Lin and Chan 2015). Using observations and a suite of climate model experiments, this study attempts to assess whether and to what extent internal climate modes (e.g., ENSO) and anthropogenic forcing contributed to the extreme 2015 WNP ACE event.”

    Running climate models with doubled CO2 levels are not “experiments”. Outputs of climate models are not empirical “data”. They are merely the outputs of what is programmed into them. GIGO. The climate models are unable to model natural climate variability, so they cannot be properly used to separate natural from anthropogenic changes. It is also admitted that the climate models cannot accurately represent the natural ENSO process, which was admittedly the primary factor in the high ACE season.

    “ El Nino-Southern Oscillation The ENSO phenomenon is the dominant mode of climate variability on seasonal to interannual time scales … as was the case in AR4, simulations of both background climate (time mean and seasonal cycle, see Section and internal variability exhibit serious systematic errors … many of which can be traced to the representation of deep convection, trade wind strength and cloud feedbacks, with little improvement from CMIP3 to CMIP5 … Detailed quantitative evaluation of ENSO performance is hampered by the short observational record of key processes … and the complexity and diversity of the processes involved.” – IPCC, AR5, WG1, Chap. 9 ‘Evaluation of Climate Models’, p.803-804

    Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) over the period of alleged human-induced climate change shows natural variability, not an anthropogenic signal, as shown in the ACE data from Zhang(2016)’s Fig. 26.2(a) of WNP ACE, and as shown in this figure of global ACE over the past ~5 decades:



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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