Typhoon Babe (1977)

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This article is about the Pacific typhoon of 1977; for other storms of the same name, see Tropical Storm Babe (disambiguation).
Typhoon Babe (Miling)
Typhoon (JMA scale)
Category 4 (Saffir–Simpson scale)
Typhoon Babe.JPG
Typhoon Babe at peak intensity on September 8
Formed September 2, 1977
Dissipated September 12, 1977
Highest winds 10-minute sustained: 205 km/h (125 mph)
1-minute sustained: 240 km/h (150 mph)
Lowest pressure 905 mbar (hPa); 26.72 inHg
Fatalities 23 total, 3 missing
Damage $23 million (1977 USD)
Areas affected Japan, East China Sea, China
Part of the 1977 Pacific typhoon season

Typhoon Babe, also known as the Okinoerabu Typhoon (沖永良部台風 Okinoerabu Taifū?),[1] was regarded as "the worst typhoon to threaten Japan in 18 years."[2] Developing as a tropical depression on September 2, Babe initially tracked west-northwestward as it intensified. On September 5, an abrupt shift in steering currents caused the system to turn north-northwestward. Early on September 6, the system intensified into a typhoon. Over the following two days, Babe quickly intensified, ultimately attaining its peak intensity early on September 8 with winds of 240 km/h (150 mph) and a barometric pressure of 905 mbar (hPa; 26.72 inHg). Not long after reaching this strength, another shift in the steering patterns caused the typhoon to execute a prolonged counter-clockwise arc, causing it to track through the Ryukyu Islands southwest of Japan, as it interacted with a low pressure originating from the Korean Peninsula. During this time, the system gradually weakened and eventually it made landfall near Shanghai, China on September 11 as a minimal typhoon before dissipating inland the following day. Coincidentally, Typhoon Babe and Atlantic Hurricane Babe existed at the same time from September 3–9.[3]

Passing through the Ryukyu Islands as a powerful typhoon, Babe caused considerable damage in the region. More than 1,000 homes were destroyed and nearly 7,000 more were damaged or flooded. One person was killed on Amami Ōshima and 77 others were injured throughout the country. Total losses reached ¥6.1 billion (US$23 million). Offshore, over 100 vessels were affected by the storm, including a Panamanian freighter where 13 people lost their lives. In China, more than 24,000 homes were destroyed and nine people were killed.

Meteorological history[edit]

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale

In late August 1977, an area of disturbed weather was noted south of Pohnpei. By September 1, a weak surface low accompanied by organized convection developed within the disturbance. Situated to the south of a Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough, conditions were favorable for further organization and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) issued a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert for the system. Tracking steadily west-northwestward in response to a well-developed subtropical ridge extending from the International Dateline to China, the system was soon classified a tropical depression early on September 2. Hours later, a weather reconnaissance mission into the depression revealed winds of 75 km/h (45 mph), prompting the JTWC to designate the system as Tropical Storm Babe.[2] Due to the cyclone's proximity to the Philippines, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration also monitored the storm and assigned it with the local name Miling.[4]

Initially, forecasters anticipated Babe to maintain its westward course as it strengthened and threaten the Philippines; however, its forward motion gradually slowed as it neared the region. On September 5, an upper-level trough formed over northeastern Asia and created a weakness in the subtropical ridge, allowing Babe to turn north-northwestward. Over the following two days, the storm quickly strengthened as divergence increased ahead of the storm, with Babe attaining typhoon status early on September 6 Between 0832 UTC on September 5 and 2204 UTC on September 7, the storm's barometric pressure dropped from 988 mbar (hPa; 29.18 inHg) to 907 mbar (hPa; 26.79 inHg), approximately 1.3 mbar (hPa; 0.04 inHg) per hour. Early on September 8, Babe attained its peak intensity with winds of 240 km/h (150 mph) while situated approximately 465 km (290 mi) southeast of Ishigaki Island. This ranked it as the first and only super typhoon of the 1977 season.[2] At this time, the Japan Meteorological Agency estimated the storm to have had peak ten-minute sustained winds of 205 km/h (125 mph) and a minimum pressure of 905 mbar (hPa; 26.72 inHg).[5]

Until September 8, Typhoon Babe was forecast to continue northwestward into Taiwan and later China; however, another upper-level trough moved into northeastern China and further weakened the ridge. This in turn allowed a new area of low pressure to develop over the Korean Peninsula and cause Babe to curve northeastward. While moving northeastward, Babe gradually weakened and began to undergo a Fujiwhara-like interaction with the low near Korea as that system moved southwestward. Accelerating along a counter-clockwise arc, Babe moved through the Ryukyu Islands as a weakening typhoon on September 9 before taking a steady westward course into China.[2] As the system passed through the archipelago, a pressure of 907.3 mbar (hPa; 26.80 inHg) was measured on Okinoerabujima.[1] Babe eventually made landfall near Shanghai with winds of 120 km/h (75 mph) before rapidly weakening over land.[2] The system was last noted early on September 12 over Anhui Province.[5]

Impact[edit]

Significant Typhoons with Special Names
(from the Japan Meteorological Agency)
Name Number Japanese name
Marie T5415 Toyamaru Typhoon
Ida T5822 Kanogawa Typhoon
Sarah T5914 Miyakojima Typhoon
Vera T5915 Isewan Typhoon
Nancy T6118 2nd Muroto Typhoon
Cora T6618 2nd Miyakojima Typhoon
Della T6816 3rd Miyakojima Typhoon
Babe T7709 Okinoerabu Typhoon
Reference:[6]


Torrential rain fell across much of the Ryukyu Islands, Shikoku, and Kyushu. The highest total were observed in Kōchi Prefecture, with Funato in Tsuno, Kōchi measuring 705 mm (27.8 in).[7] The small island of Okinoerabujima reportedly experienced winds in excess of 210 km/h (130 mph) for two hours as the typhoon passed by.[8] Nearly two-thirds of the homes across the island were damaged or destroyed by the storm and 73 people were injured.[9] Most of the injuries across the island were caused by collapsing buildings.[10] One person was killed on Amami Ōshima and 77 others were injured across the Amami Islands. According to Japanese police, 1,146 homes were destroyed, mainly by flooding and landslides, while 1,097 more were damaged and another 5,826 were flooded.[8] At least 14,927 people were left homeless.[11] Losses across the country amounted to ¥6.1 billion (US$23 million).[7]

About 420 km (260 mi) north-northwest of Okinawa, the Panamanian freighter May Cruiser became stranded and in danger of sinking on September 10 with its crew of 25.[12] The Japanese Maritime Safety Agency deployed five airplanes and four patrol boats to search for survivors. Additionally, ten Japanese fishing boats in the area assisted in search and rescue. By September 12, rescuers found nine sailors and thirteen bodies, while three others remained missing.[13] Elsewhere in the East China Sea, approximately 100 Japanese fishing vessels attempting to seek shelter from the storm were damaged.[2]

In China, wind gusts reportedly reached 252 km/h (157 mph), resulting in extensive damage. Around 24,000 homes were destroyed and nine people were killed.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "List of Significant Typhoons with Special Names". Digital Typhoon. National Institute of Informatics. 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Annual Tropical Cyclone Report: Typhoon Babe" (PDF). Joint Typhoon Warning Center. United States Navy. 1978. pp. 27–29. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  3. ^ Miles B. Lawrence (April 1978). "Atlantic Hurricane Season of 1977" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) 106 (4): 534–545. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1978)106<0534:AHSO>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  4. ^ Michael V. Padua (June 11, 2008). "PAGASA Tropical Cyclones 1963–1988". Typhoon2000. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "1977 Babe (1977243N05156)". International Best Track Archive. 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  6. ^ http://agora.ex.nii.ac.jp/digital-typhoon/reference/index.html.en
  7. ^ a b (Japanese) "台風197709号 (Babe) [沖永良部台風] - 災害情報". Digital Typhoon. National Institute of Informatics. 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Associated Press (September 11, 1977). "Typhoon Rakes Japan". The Spokesman-Review (Tokyo, Japan). p. A5. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  9. ^ United Press International (September 10, 1977). "Typhoon Babe Slashes Japan". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Tokyo, Japan). p. 2. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  10. ^ Associated Press (September 10, 1977). "Typhoon Babe ravages Japan's island chain". The Day (Tokyo, Japan). p. 1. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  11. ^ Associated Press (September 11, 1977). "Typhoon Babe Turns Fury Toward China". The News and Courier (Tokyo, Japan). p. 5A. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  12. ^ Associated Press (September 10, 1977). "Japan Lashed By Typhoon Babe". Lewiston Evening Journal (Tokyo, Japan). p. 1. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  13. ^ Associated Press (September 12, 1977). "Vessel goes down in Orient". Bangor Daily News (Tokyo, Japan). p. 19. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  14. ^ Yongqiang Zong and Xiqing Chen (March 1999). "Typhoon Hazards in the Shanghai Area" (PDF). Disasters 23 (1): 66–80. doi:10.1111/1467-7717.00105. Retrieved April 17, 2013.  (subscription required)

External links[edit]