Typhoons In 2003--Quite Active
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The Western Pacific is usually quite active with storms year after year. However, this season has been particularly stormy. With activity on the lighter side for the most part in both the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic during the first couple of months of their seasons, much of the focus, particularly lately, has been in the Western Pacific.

That is in light of the fact that the Atlantic has been quite busy so far this season, and the Eastern Pacific is having about an average year. Nevertheless, the real powerful storms have been the typhoons in the Western Pacific Basin including Super Typhoon Imbudo. Imbudo, one of the most powerful typhoons in years, struck the Philippines, Taiwan, and Southern China. However, there have been other storms as well such as Typhoon Amang, Batibot, Chedeng, Egay, Etau, and Tropical Storm Morakot.

Typhoon Numbers In 2003

Hurricaneville doesn't usually pay too much attention to the Western Pacific since it doesn't impact any of the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, or Hawaii. But, WESTPAC has the most numerous and intense tropical storms of all the basins in the World. Behind that are the Hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic, and then the storms in the Bay of Bengal region.

The storms in the Bay of Bengal region are called cyclones, and are much milder in intensity then their hurricane and typhoon brethren, but the are the most deadly because of the shallow coastlines, and poor infrastructure in places such as Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. This year's numbers are a bit higher than those in the Eastern Pacific. The Western Pacific has seen nine storms already as supposed to eight in the Eastern Pacific.

So, by most standards, the numbers are average, or slightly below average because normally there are about 20 or so typhoons that occur in the Western Pacific each year. Sometimes, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center has to start another list of names because there have been so many storms that they exhausted the list for the current year. Running out of a list of names has not yet happened in the Atlantic.

The closest the National Hurricane Center came to running out of names was in 1995 when it went down to the letter "T" with Hurricane Tanya. Prior to that, the most active season in the Atlantic was in 1933 well before they started naming storms in 1950. There have been memorable typhoons in recent years such as Typhoon Bilis and Jelawat in August, 2000. Typhoon Imbudo was a storm on par with those two.

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Why All The Focus On Typhoons In 2003

Despite the more average numbers coming out of the Western Pacific, there seems to be a lot more focus on that region right now. The focus is largely due to the fact that the tropical season in the Western Pacific lasts longer than in the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic, and it peaks a lot sooner too.

As we briefly mentioned earlier, super typhoons such as Bilis, Jelawat, and Imbudo have occurred during the months of July and August, which is prior to the statistical height of say the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which peaks around September 10th each year. Climate is also a factor. In the Western Pacific Rim, countries such as the Philippines, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam have a more rainy climate during the summer while sea surface temperatures in the Western Pacific is warmer than that in the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic.

So, while the Eastern Pacific is approaching its peak portion of the season, and the Atlantic season is still warming up, residents of the Pacific Rim are deep in the midst of their typhoon season. In addition to the climate factors, there is also the factor of geography. Much of the Western Pacific is made of islands so there's a lot of open water for tropical storms and typhoons to form. Many of these storms become super typhoons because there is very little in the way of land or cooler water to slow them down.

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Did You Know?

The most powerful typhoon in recent years, Imbudo, struck the Philippines, Taiwan, and Southern China near Hong Kong. However, the most powerful typhoon ever to form in the Western Pacific was Typhoon Tip in 1979. With a central pressure of 870 millibars, or 25.59 inches of Hg recorded on October 12, 1979, Tip was the strongest cyclone ever recorded on the entire planet.

The closest storm to Tip in terms of central pressure in the Atlantic, was Hurricane Gilbert in September, 1988 when it had a pressure reading of 888 mb, or 26.23 inches of Hg. So, Tip, which had sustained winds of 190 mph, and gusts of 200 mph, would have been a Category Five Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale if it was in the Atlantic.

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