Typhoons Mindulle and Lionrock in the West Pacific

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Within just 10 days, two tropical storms slammed into Japan, first Mindulle, which hit the larger Tokyo area, and then Lionrock that hit Japan's already tsunami-hit north-east coast.

Date & Time
21 August 2016, 01:00 UTC–30 August 06:50 UTC
True Colour RGB, Natural Colour RGB, VIS0.6 channel

By Jochen Kerkmann (EUMETSAT), Scott Bachmeier (CIMSS) and Curtis Seaman (CIRA)

On Sunday 21 August, Himawari-08 imagery captured an interesting sight near Japan — a trio of tropical systems spinning near the country (Figure 1).

One of those three systems, Mindulle, made landfall near Tokyo on Monday 22 August, lashing the greater Tokyo area (Figure 2). It dumped heavy rain and left at least one person dead and 29 injured in storm-related incidents. On Monday evening Mindulle headed north, where it hit the Tohoku region and Hokkaido later on Tuesday 23 August.

The other two tropical systems located near Japan were Tropical Storm Lionrock, off of Japan's southwest coast and Tropical Storm Kompasu, to the north near Hokkaido Island, which had dissipated by early Monday morning.

Figure 1: Himawari-8, 21 August, 01:00 UTC
True colour RGB*
Source: data from JMA,True Colour RGB image from CIRA
Full Resolution
Figure 2: Himawari-8, 22 August, 01:00 UTC
True colour RGB*
Source: data from JMA,True Colour RGB image from CIRA
Full Resolution
Geocolor RGB product animation, 21 Aug 20:00 UTC–22 Aug 02:30 UTC (Source: CIRA)

On 24 August, Typhoon Lionrock intensified quickly to Category 3. During this period of intensification, 2.5 minute interval rapid-scan Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm) imagery (Figure 3) revealed complex patterns of cloud-top radial and transverse banding. Surface mesoscale vortices were also seen at times within the open eye feature.

Figure 3
Figure 3: Rapid scan visible imagery (AHI band 3, 0.64 microns) of Typhoon Lionrock, 24 August 00:02–08:17 UTC.
Download animation (MP4, 8 MB), images at 500 m resolution and 2.5 minute intervals. Source: data from JMA, images from CIRA.

On 26 August, Lionrock briefly intensified to Category 4 during the north-eastward motion segment of its rather unusual track (source: CIMSS Storm Archive) — the intensity estimate from the Advanced Dvorak Technique peaked at 112.4 kts (208 km/h). It again intensified to Category 4 on 28 August.

Figure 4 shows Typhoon Lionrock on the evening on 27 August. Looking at the area between the typhoon and the Philippines, one can see polluted Asian air (from Eastern China and the Philippines) floating over the Pacific into the tropical cyclone.

Note that for this Natural Colour RGB, in contrast to the EUMETSAT definition, the green-wavelength visible band (AHI band 2) is used instead of the traditional red band (AHI band 3).

This saves on computation time (deals with only 1 km bands, not the high-resolution visible band) and increases the sensitivity to smoke/smog and other aerosols.


Figure 4: Himawari-8, 27 August, 07:00 UTC
AHI Natural Colour RGB
Source: data from JMA, image from CIRA
Full Disk Image
Figure 5: Himawari-8, 30 August, 06:50 UTC
AHI Natural Colour RGB
Source: data from JMA, image from CIRA
Full Disk Image

Finally, on 30 August, after a long and unusual journey, Lionrock made landfall in Northern Japan, leaving at least 11 people dead (see Figure 5). Rivers in Iwate and Hokkaido island flooded, inundating residential areas and blocking roads.

While Japan is often struck by typhoons, Lionrock is the first to make a direct hit on the country’s north from the Pacific Ocean since records began in 1951, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. It caused damage in regions that usually feel the aftermath of typhoons rather than their strongest force.

"The typhoons this year are making landfall in a way that doesn't happen in normal years," Land and Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii said in an interview. “The rain is falling in a violent way that didn’t happen before, possibly from the effects of global warming.”

He added that Japan's typhoon vigilance needs to be broadened to cover regions previously thought to be at low risk.

*Note: in the True Colour RGB images, the input images have been “Rayleigh corrected” to correct for the molecular scatter of sunlight by gases in the atmosphere which is significant, particularly in the blue band (band 1 of AHI). These corrections are a non-linear function of solar and satellite geometry, i.e. they require a simplified radiative transfer model. This is a BIG computational effort, but we think it is worth the effort as with this correction, the images (visible bands) are much sharper, especially towards the edge of the viewing area. Note also that, for generating the True Colour RGB, the green band (band 2 of AHI at 510 nm), which misses the 555 nm chlorophyll signal, is corrected to better show vegetated areas. The correction is done by blending the 510 nm band (band 2) with the vegetation-sensitive 856 nm band (band 4) of AHI to produce a “hybrid green” band. A description of the method can be found in the early online release of a paper from Steve Miller: A Sight for Sore Eyes—The Return of True Color to Geostationary Satellites.

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