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The Eye of the Storm

by bhebotenchantress | Published: Sep 08, 2013

It’s that time of the year again, when heavy rains, and days upon days of wetness seems to be everywhere in the Philippines. But have you ever wondered what, where, and how these are rains are formed? Usually, we just switch on the television to watch Kuya Kim tell us a few tidbits of information about an approaching tropical depression, or a forming tropical cyclone, or even a typhoon coming our way. But have you actually wanted to learn more about these phenomena? Here is a little introduction, and I hope that you learn more about the “rainy season” in the Philippines.


A typhoon, according to meteorological sources is a mature tropical cyclone that develops in the northwestern part of the Pacific Ocean between 180º and 100ºE. In order for a typhoon to form, six requirements are need for formation and development. They are listed below:


1.      Sufficiently warm seas surface temperatures,

2.      Atmospheric instability,

3.      High humidity in the lower to middle levels of the troposphere,

4.      Enough Coriolis force to develop a low pressure center,

5.      Pre-existing low level focus or disturbance,

6.      Low vertical wind shear


Here in the Philippines, our classification system for categorizing tropical cyclones according to there intensity is actually based on the Japanese model, which the Japan Meteorogical Agency uses. There are four categories, classified according to the speed of it’s sustained winds, listed below:


1.      Typhoon; sustained winds of ≥64 knots or ≥118 km/h

2.      Severe Tropical Storm; sustained winds of 48-63 knots or 88-117 km/h

3.      Tropical Storm; 34-47 knots or 62-88 km/h

4.      Tropical Depression; ≥33 knots or ≥61 km/h


Our neighboring countries, especially Hong Kong, has added, since 2009 an additional two categories, since meteorological data for the past five years has indicated an ever increasing number and incidence of much larger storms. The two additional classifications are listed below:


1.      Super Typhoon; ≥100 knots or 120 – 190 km/h

2.      Severe Typhoon; ≥80 knots or 92 – 150 km/h



We have heard Kuya Kim say a couple of things about inter-tropical convergence zones (ITCZ’s). This is actually the beginning of a tropical depression, and lays the groundwork for all the other ingredients to converge with one another. An ITCZ  in layman’s terms is called a monsoon trough, which is basically a line that extends across the ocean where the monsoon has enough influence to pass through. As the ITCZ matures and gains momentum, it goes through the stages of becoming a full blown Tropical Storm.

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