Baby the Wind Must Blow

The words of an old folk song ring true here in the Philippines. The normal tranquil weather gets bumped several times a year, three this year already. Yet because of good weather forecasts and my basic chicken nature we not seen more than a puff of wind. Run Furthur Run is our motto with typhoons.

Our first trip at the end of 2013 brought us to the after math of Typhoon Hiyan or Yolanda as it was called here, this one did great damage and loss of life. We saw firsthand the devastation and helped one family rebuild their home. (see blog 12/2013) so i have seen what these monsters can do.

This year we no sooner crossed the border and check into the secure anchorage at Puerto Princesia than the talk of a big one spread around the harbor. This is when i learned of the extensive internet resources for tracking a storm. i also learned that it was a black art more than science. We all huddled around computers in the yacht club watching the ominous black circle get closer. Talk of “models” “windshear” and “tracking” dominated the conversations.

All the varied data is available on a Filipino weather site that comprises all the guesses the wizards come up with, there is even a daily TV show. There are five different weather agencies that do computer models of approaching storms, some US (NOAA) some Filipino and i think one Australian. They take the current track, influential other weather and geographical elements and come up with the best guess of what the monsters will do.

This time of year the prevailing and often strong winds are nor’easters which blow steady and bring dry weather. The low pressure systems that spin into typhoons much like a romantic squabble can spin into a full blown knock down fight. They are self escalating, more spin brings more wind brings more spin. Here they spin counter clockwise. As the northwest heading low pressure collides with the prevailing northeast wind two things can happen. The first and most common is the low pressure simply yields to the prevailing wind and peters out. the other and more devastating is the northeast wind pushed the typhoon on shore in the Philippines and that is what all the speculation is about, bust up or bust out on us. The wizards look at the size of the eye of the storm, if it reduces the storm is losing oomph. Also i learned today watching the daily TV report that this one is losing cloud cover in the bottom left quadrant, the 6-9 o’clock slot, this is another indication of the storm falling apart.

The good news is just after the low passes the prevailing winds take a few days off to build so we get about a week of flat calm weather, nice for us power boats.

i religiously watch three weather sites for passage planning: Buoy Weather, WindGuru and Passageweather. Bouy Weather gives me 7 day forecasts where ever i move the little arrow. Windguru lists forecasts digitally, it is considered the most accurate here but has only a few stations to look at. Passageweather, is a map with the grid files and forecasts with data on the map, best to see what is coming at you. All three seem to use the US models for typhoons. Early this week i checked all and saw exceptional good weather ahead on all three sites then heard a low was coming and looked harder, the three sites were all using the US model which had the storm heading far north of here. In the last few days all now agree it will hit here but be very weak, or so they think?? So again we stay put in a safe harbor not taking any chances.