Since the 4th of October 2019, Japan has been tracking and undergoing one of its most devastating typhoon, Hagibis. According to both the Japanese and the international meteorological departments, Typhoon Hagibis is one of the harshest weather element to hit Japan for the last five decades.

What is a Typhoon?

The National Ocean Service categorises a typhoon as a tropical cycloneThe term “topical cyclone” is used to describe and define any rotating system of clouds that originates over either a tropical or subtropical zones.  These devastating typhoons are closed , low level circulation and are mainly accompanied by thunderstorms.

Is there a difference between a Typhoon and Hurricane?

The main difference between a typhoon and hurricane is the location in which they occur. Infact, both hurricanes and typhoons are categorised as tropical cyclones.

Tropical cyclones are categorised depending on their speed and size.  The weakest and probably the least destructive are called tropical depressions.  A tropical storm occurs when a tropical depression reaches a maximum wind speeds of 39 mph (63 km/h). Tropical cyclones are formed when winds reach  speeds  of  over 74 mph (199 km/h).

Satellite Image of Hagibis
Satellite Image of Hagibis

Tropical cyclones are classified either as typhoons or hurricanes depending on their origin. Hurricanes occur whenever the storm originates from  North Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific. Typhoons, on the other hand, occur when storms originate from Northwest Pacific.

However the the term tropical cyclone is not entirely discarded as it is used to refer to storms from  South Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Why is Typhoon Hagibis so Powerful and Devastating?

Typhoon Hagibis has been a wrecking havoc in Japan. Since its occurence, thousands of flights have been cancelled, major rugby events cancelled and hundreds of thousands of people displaced.

Destruction Caused by Hagibis
Destruction Caused by Hagibis

The category 5 Typhoon broke major records. No other Typhoon has reached such heights, literally. Here are the major records it broke and that made it so destructive

  • Reached a record breaking wind speeds of 260 km/h (140 knots or 162 mph) on land. On the Philippine sea, the winds reached 315 km/h (170 knots or 196 mph).
  • Holds the second largest diameter in history. It reached 1,400 km (870 miles) in diameter. The largest ever recorded was typhoon hope of 1979 with 2,200 km (1,367 miles) diameter.
  • Named the wettest typhoon by inducing  922.5 mm (36 inches) of rain in just 24 hours over Hakone, Kanagawa in Japan.

Typhoons are powered by warm and moist air. They mainly occur over warm ocean water  as it rises. Since the hot air moves upwards, it leaves a vacuum causing a difference in pressure. The lower region has low pressure as the surrounding areas have high pressure. As more air is pushed to the core , swirls occur. The process repeats over time and the swirls move even more faster. An eye is formed in the middle and the typhoon can move inland or outward further into the sea.

Formation of Typhoons
Formation of Typhoons

Typhoon Hagibis broke cyclone records due to the increased water temperatures. Studies conducted in Japan have identified that Japan will continue to have more adverse weather due to climate change. The human afflicted phenomenon has caused an increase in water temperatures.

The increase in water temperature will form a better breeding ground for typhoons. These temperatures have been attributed to causing the devastating Hagibis.

Since we have failed to preserve the environment , mother nature will continue to hit back. It’s time to wake up and smell the looming dangers.