View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 28 September 2009

Monday 28 September

Overcast and wet, as a frontal zone moves west to east over the islands - aligned west to east. We're in the middle of a 48-hour spell of rain. Quite uncommon actually. We get rain frequently, showers, rainbands, but they don't usually stop for such a long period of time. A local twitterer remarked that this was the time to view Stornoway Grey, a dig at a certain car manufacturer who is marketing one their models in that hue.

As I mentioned in the preceding post, the Philippines were deluged on Saturday by tropical storm Ondoy / Ketsana. Over the weekend, I was unable to access the islands' typhoon warning website. Far worse than that, dozens of people drowned and the emergency services are barely able to cope with the aftermath. The Philippines are affected by tropical cyclones every year, and rainfall tends to be causing more problems than actual winds. Ketsana carried winds that were barely above galeforce. But it did dump a month's rainfall in 12 hours on the Philippines capital, Manila.

Hurricane update - 28 September

More accurately: typhoon update. The news reports this weekend have been full of the names Ondoy and Ketsana, both referring to the same tropical cyclone. After drowning the Philippines on Saturday, Ketsana drifted into the South China Sea and blew up into a typhoon (which is the same as a hurricane). At the moment, the forecasters put this system as a category II typhoon, with winds of 90 to 110 mph. Ketsana is headed due west, along the parallel of 15.8 degrees North, and is currently lashing the Paracel Islands. Landfall will occur tomorrow morning local time, between the towns of Dà Nang and Quang Ngãi. Apart from the high winds and torrential rains, Ketsana can also be expected to bring a storm surge ashore of 15 to 20 feet.

The forecasters are tying themselves in knots over two nascent tropical cyclones, prosaically named 18W and 19W, which lie some 450 miles apart to the south and southeast of the Marianas Islands in the Pacific. Because they are so "close", it is a gamble as to which one will gain the upper hand. Either way, there'll be another typhoon to the east of the Philippines before the week is out.