Hurricane and typhoon watch

There are two major hurricanes in action at the moment – Hurricane Florence weakening as it makes landfall in the eastern US, and Super Typhoon Mangkhut currently bearing down on the Philippines.

Super Typhoon Mangkhut made landfall in the northern Philippines early Saturday with maximum sustained winds of 270 kph (165 mph) and gusts as high as 325 kph (200 mph), which is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.

That’s horrendous. The wind is getting very strong here when it gets in the 120-150 kph range, but Mangkhut is twice that.

 

Al Jazeera:  Super typhoon Mangkhut makes landfall in the Philippines

Monster Typhoon Mangkhut has made landfall in the northeastern tip of the Philippines, affecting at least five million people in its path.

Mangkhut, also known as Ompong in the Philippines, made landfall at around 17:40 GMT on Friday (01:40 am Saturday, local time), according to the Philippine weather bureau, PAGASA.

It retained its ferocious strength on Friday, but gained speed while shifting towards a number of densely populated provinces, where a large evacuation was carried out earlier in the day.

The Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center categorised Mangkhunt as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.

In comparison, Hurricane Florence, which is currently lashing the US East Coast, is classified as category 1 storm.

It is packing winds of up to 205 kilometer per hour and gusts up to 255km/h, PAGASA said. But the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center said maximum winds could reach 268km/h and wind gusts of up to about 324km/h.

After it passes the Philippines it will head towards Hong Kong:

In the Us Hurricane Florence wind strengths have eased substantially but widespread flooding and disruption is still expected.

Fox News: Hurricane Florence moving slowly, but ‘wreaking havoc’ across Carolinas

Slow moving and powerful Hurricane Florence is “wreaking havoc” across the Carolinas as the Category 1 storm continues to dump massive amounts of rain that could trigger catastrophic floods inland.

Once a Category 4 hurricane, a weakened but still-dangerous Florence is now making its way south along the Carolina coast at about 6 mph with sustained winds of 80 mph – pushing life-threatening storm surges miles inland, ripping down parts of buildings and knocking out power to more than a half-million homes and businesses early Friday.

The center of Florence made technical landfall at about 7:15 a.m. on Friday near Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

Florence’s storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3½ feet of rain were considered a bigger threat than its winds, which dropped off from an alarming 140 mph earlier in the week. Forecasters said catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected well inland over the next few days as Florence crawls westward across the Carolinas all weekend.

Forecasters said the terrifying onslaught would last for several hours, because Florence was barely moving along and still drawing energy from the ocean. They said “catastrophic” freshwater flooding was expected along waterways throughout the Carolinas.

“Twenty-four to 36 hours remain of significant threat from heavy rain and heavy surge,” said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Those citizens who did not heed evacuation warnings, it’s time to stay where you are, do the best that you can to protect yourself.”


Weatherwatch: Has NZ ever experienced Cat5 winds?

In 1968 a former tropical cyclone called Giselle was tracking across the North Island.  At the same time a polar storm was racing out of the Southern Ocean.  The two collided over Wellington creating what is known as the “perfect storm”.

It was this storm that sunk the Wahine ferry in Wellington harbour as it blasted the capital with hurricane force winds.  NIWA records show winds gusted to 275km/h – which is equal to a category 5 cyclone.  Around 100 homes lost their roofs.

But the winds were very different to a cat 5 cyclone.  With a cyclone, the strong winds are generated around the eye of the storm over open water.  In this case it was the merger of the two systems and Wellington’s localised topography that created the incredible winds – and they only existed as this strength in one part of Wellington.

It was the first and only time winds of that speed were recorded in New Zealand.

But from a NIWA employee:

The 275 km/h is a reference to a 3-s gust speed from a Munro anemometer located at Oteranga Bay during the storm. I’ve always understood that this reading was highly questionable due to an issue with the anemometer at that site at the time of the storm. I’ve double-checked with Steve Reid (retired employee of NIWA and before 1992 MetService) who was the wind-expert at both institutions for several decades. He had in the past checked the instrument file for Oteranga Bay and noted that the next technical visit to the site after the Wahine storm had remarks that a “substitution resistor was missing from the installation” and this would result in speeds 25% too high.  The resistor was used in installations where no dial was in the circuit. For this reason, the observation is highly questionable at best, and should not really be accepted as a record.  – NIWA

That would make the maximum gust closer to 200 km/h, still very strong but nothing like Mangkhut.

Trump raises concerns over Duterte

Donald Trump has caused a stir over a phone call he made to President Duterte of the Philippines.

NY Times: Trump’s ‘Very Friendly’ Talk With Duterte Stuns Aides and Critics Alike

When President Trump called President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines on Saturday, White House officials saw it as part of a routine diplomatic outreach to Southeast Asian leaders. Mr. Trump, characteristically, had his own ideas.

During their “very friendly conversation,” the administration said in a late-night statement, Mr. Trump invited Mr. Duterte, an authoritarian leader accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines, to visit him at the White House.

Now, the administration is bracing for an avalanche of criticism from human rights groups. Two senior officials said they expected the State Department and the National Security Council, both of which were caught off guard by the invitation, to raise objections internally.

“By essentially endorsing Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings,” said John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch. “Although the traits of his personality likely make it impossible, Trump should be ashamed of himself.”

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Twitter, “We are watching in real time as the American human rights bully pulpit disintegrates into ash.”

Administration officials said the call to Mr. Duterte was one of several to Southeast Asian leaders that the White House arranged after picking up signs that the leaders felt neglected because of Mr. Trump’s intense focus on China, Japan and tensions over North Korea. On Sunday, Mr. Trump spoke to the prime ministers of Singapore and Thailand; both got White House invitations.

Mr. Duterte’s toxic reputation had already given pause to some in the White House. The Philippines is set to host a summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in November, and officials said there had been a brief debate about whether Mr. Trump should attend.

It is not even clear, given the accusations of human rights abuses against him, that Mr. Duterte would be granted a visa to the United States were he not a head of state, according to human rights advocates.

Still, Mr. Trump’s affinity for Mr. Duterte, and other strongmen as well, is firmly established.

This is just one more area of international concern.

Fox News: Trump on North Korea: ‘Nobody’s safe’

President Trump, in an interview with Fox News’ Eric Bolling set to air Monday on the premiere of “The Fox News Specialists,” said “nobody’s safe” amid mounting tensions with North Korea.

As Trump weighs his options for trying to blunt Pyongyang’s nuclear advancements, Bolling asked how safe U.S. troops along the demilitarized zone and South Korea allies are at this time.

“Nobody’s safe. I mean, who’s safe? The guy’s got nuclear weapons,” Trump responded. “I’d like to say they’re very safe. These are great brave solders, these are great brave troops and they know the situation. We have 28,000 troops on the line and they’re right there. And so nobody’s safe. We’re probably not safe over here.”

Trump added, “If he gets the long-range missiles, we’re not safe either.”

That’s not very reassuring.

Fox News: Trump’s Civil War comment draws fire

President Trump is taking heat for questioning why the Civil War had to be fought and suggesting President Andrew Jackson could have mediated the dispute without bloodshed.

The president made the comments in an interview with The Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito.

He dived into Civil War history after citing comparisons between his and Jackson’s campaign for the presidency, describing that race as “nasty” and calling Jackson a “swashbuckler.”

Appearing to cast Jackson as a dealmaker like himself, he propounded a thought exercise:

“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was … a very tough person, but he had a big heart,” Trump said. “And he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, ‘There’s no reason for this.'”

He added, “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War … if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

During his presidency, Jackson confronted South Carolina secession threats and in doing so helped preserve the union, temporarily. But Jackson died in 1845, 16 years before the start of the Civil War – which was driven largely by the clash over slavery and other issues.