2014 has been rather quiet in the Atlantic Ocean; that much is apparent. However for those in the Pacific Ocean, it has been the exact opposite. Throughout hurricane season, Typhoons have been culminating, what seems like, every other week! While the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June-November, the Pacific typhoon season begins a month earlier. The year has been laced with some of the most treacherous Typhoons that battered surrounding areas back to back, most recently: Typhoon Vongfong, translating to The Wasp.
Only a week after Typhoon Phanfone hit Japan, Vongfong emerged and unleashed an estimated 15 inches of rain and winds that clocked at over 89 mph. Typhoon Vongfong was said to have been the most powerful in the ongoing barrage of storms, making landfall in Okinawa on Sunday. Although the storm was reported to have weakened as it continued to make distance across Japan, areas like Sumoto reported to have 12 inches of rain within a 12-hour timespan!
Typhoon Vongfong shortly thereafter made way back into the Western Pacific Ocean and further weakened, projecting no further interactions with land. Following the storm, there were still many pieces to pick up across Japan. Two were killed, one individual still remains missing and many were reported injured, as a result. Moreover, over 90,000 households were issued evacuation warnings because of dangers and the possibilities of landslides, which occurred in 12 locations! To make matters even worse, over 50,000 households reported to have lost power because of the storm’s dangerous effects. The numbers of Typhoon Vongfong suggests one thing: this storm was the most powerful one that occurred anywhere on earth in 2014.
More locally, trouble could certainly be brewing in the Atlantic. Albeit it is a somewhat late start for some Atlantic activity, October has seen some of the most powerful storms within the past years. Just a few days ago, Tropical Storm Fay met qualifications to be considered a hurricane, but was quickly downgraded later in the day back to a tropical storm, posing almost no threat to the United States. But at the same time, Tropical Storm Gonzalo began strengthening, with researchers agreeing that it would soon be upgraded to hurricane status.
Experts suggest that the Atlantic hurricane season may still have some bite left in it, especially given that there are certain factors at play, which could contribute to hurricane development. One of the biggest pieces is the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which can supposedly enhance the necessary conditions for storms and hurricanes to occur. The other factor at play is a Kelvin wave moving through the basin, which can cause the atmosphere to lift and result in thunderstorms. If you’ll remember, Hurricane Edouard was the only major hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic season, but experts suggest that it was the result of a Kelvin wave.
Even in Japan, specialists are fearful of further treacherous storms. Researchers suggest that if we continue going at this rate, not only will natural disasters continue to occur at a rapid frequency, but also the effects on the economy would be dizzying! Japan would experience over $4.4 trillion in losses as a result of climate change. The U.S would have a projected loss of $855 billion! Collectively reducing our carbon footprint is one of the biggest ways to prevent this from happening. However, in the meantime, it would appear that preparation, as always, is absolutely vital.