Tropical cyclone warnings and watches

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Tropical cyclone warnings and watches are two levels of alert issued by national weather forecasting bodies to coastal areas threatened by the imminent approach of a tropical cyclone of tropical storm or hurricane intensity. They are notices to the local population and civil authorities to make appropriate preparation for the cyclone, including evacuation of vulnerable areas where necessary. It is important that interests throughout the area of an alert make preparations to protect life and property, and do not disregard it on the strength of the detailed forecast track. Tropical cyclones are not points, and forecasting their track remains an uncertain science.

Western hemisphere[edit]

Hurricane Warning
Hurricane conditions
expected within 36 hours.
Hurricane Watch
Hurricane conditions
possible within 48 hours.
Tropical Storm Warning
Tropical storm conditions expected within 36 hours.
Tropical Storm Watch
Tropical storm conditions possible within 48 hours.
Emergency alert issued for the Big Island about the message of hurricane warning during Hurricane Lane.

New tropical cyclone position and forecast information is available at least every twelve hours in the Southern Hemisphere and at least every six hours in the Northern Hemisphere from Regional Specialized Meteorological Centers and Tropical Cyclone Warning Centers.[1][2][3][4][5] In conjunction with the National Hurricane Center, the national meteorological and hydrological services of Central America, the northern Atlantic Ocean, and the northeastern Pacific Ocean east of the 140th meridian west, excluding mainland Africa and Europe, all issue tropical storm/hurricane watches and warnings.[6] Tropical storm watches are issued when gale and storm force winds of between 34–63 knots (39–73 mph; 63–118 km/h) are possible, within 48 hours in a specified area in association with a tropical, subtropical or post-tropical cyclone.[7] These watches are upgraded to tropical storm warnings, when gale and storm force winds become expected to occur somewhere in the warning area within 36 hours.[7] Hurricane watches are issued when sustained winds of 64 knots (74 mph; 119 km/h) are possible, within 48 hours in a specified area in association with a tropical, subtropical or post-tropical cyclone.[7] These warnings are upgraded to hurricane warnings, when hurricane-force winds become expected to occur somewhere in the warning area within 36 hours.[7]

Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch and warnings are issued in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds, rather than in advance of the anticipated onset of hurricane-force winds.[7] At times a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch can both be in effect due to uncertainties in the forecast. These watches and warnings are also issued by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center for the Hawaiian Islands and the Weather Forecast Office in Guam for parts of Micronesia but not for American Samoa due to an international agreement.[8]

Within the United States an extreme wind warning is issued by the National Weather Service for any land areas that are expected to be impacted by a major (Category 3 or higher) hurricane and by sustained surface winds greater than or equal to 100 knots (115 mph; 185 km/h).[8] The warning is issued just prior to when the strongest winds of the eyewall are expected to impact an area.[9] The warning is to be issued for the smallest area possible, and be valid for times of two hours or less.[9] It was developed in response to confusion resulting from the landfall of Hurricane Katrina. NWS offices in Jackson and New Orleans/Baton Rouge issued 11 tornado warnings for areas that would not experience an actual tornado, but would experience extreme wind speeds commonly associated with tornadoes.[10] The extreme wind warning is now expected to be used in these situations.

In 2017, the National Hurricane Center introduced a new system of warnings and watches for storm surge, which would cover the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States. A storm surge watch would be issued when a life-threatening storm surge, associated with a potential or ongoing tropical, subtropical or post-tropical cyclone, is possible within the next 48 hours. These watches would be upgraded to storm surge warnings when there is a danger of life-threatening storm surge occurring within 36 hours. However, both watches and warnings may be issued earlier than specified if environmental conditions are expected to hamper preparations.[11]

In Mexico, a color coded alert system is used to keep the public informed when a tropical cyclone or possible tropical cyclones poses a threat to the nation. The scale starts with blue at the bottom being minimal danger, then proceeds to a green alert, which means low level danger. A yellow alert signifies moderate danger, followed by an orange alert that means high danger level. The scale tops off with a red alert, the maximum level of danger.[12]

Canada[edit]

In Canada, terminology is fairly similar to that of the United States, but there are a few differences:[13]

  • Watches are issued 36 hours prior to a tropical cyclone making landfall.
  • Warnings are issued 24 hours prior to the tropical cyclone making landfall.
  • If sustained winds 70 km/h and/or gusts 90km/h or stronger are predicted, a conventional wind warning will be issued along with the tropical cyclone watches and warnings.
  • A storm surge warning may be issued if abnormally high water levels are predicted.

West Pacific systems[edit]

Mainland China[edit]

A two-stage warning system was long-established in China for tropical cyclones of tropical storm intensity of above.[14] Nowadays, the use of this system is restricted to coastal waters only. Thus, warnings may be discontinued even if a cyclone is maintaining tropical storm intensity inland. Color-coded alerts (below) may be in effect independently of any two-stage warnings.

Later, China Meteorological Administration standardized the system for national use.[15] This set is part of a larger warning system that covers other forms of severe weather conditions, such as extreme temperature, torrential rainfall, drought, etc.

Level Name Sign Meaning
Blue typhoon alert
台风蓝色预警信号
Blue typhoon alert - China.svg Within 24 hours, it may or may have been affected by tropical cyclones. The average wind power on the coast or land is above 6, or the gust above 8 and may continue.
Yellow typhoon alert
台风黄色预警信号
Yellow typhoon alert - China.svg Within 24 hours, it may or may have been affected by tropical cyclones. The average wind power on the coast or land is above 8, or the gust above 10 and may continue.
Orange typhoon alert
台风橙色预警信号
Orange typhoon alert - China.svg Within 12 hours, it may or may have been affected by tropical cyclones. The average wind power on the coast or land is above 10, or the gust above 12 and may continue.
Red typhoon alert
台风红色预警信号
Red typhoon alert - China.svg Within 6 hours, it may or may have been affected by tropical cyclones. The average wind power on the coast or land is above 12, or the gust above 14 and may continue.

Guangdong[edit]

Guangdong continued to set up the White typhoon alert for typhoon, indicating that tropical cyclones may affect the area within 48 hours. In some inland areas that are less affected by tropical cyclones (such as Qinghai, etc), there is no typhoon warning signal, but when it is hit by tropical cyclones, a strong wind warning signal will be issued. The winds represented by each color are consistent with the typhoon warning signal.

Typhoon warning signals used in Guangzhou from June 1st 1995 to November 1st 2000[16]:

Name Meaning
Windproof Info (Tropical Storm or Typhoon Info) indicates that a tropical storm or typhoon has entered the South China Sea (or has formed in the South China Sea) and is likely to move to the coastal areas of the province.
Windproof Warning (Tropical Storm and Typhoon Warning) Indicating that a tropical storm or typhoon warning enters the South China Sea, its route is moving in the direction of the Pearl River Estuary. If there is no change, it may land within 48 hours.
Windproof Special Alert (Tropical Storm or Typhoon Emergency Alert) Indicating that a tropical storm or typhoon hits the Pearl River Estuary within 24 hours, or landed in a coastal area within 150 kilometers of the Pearl River Estuary, which will have a serious impact on Guangzhou.
Disarming (Tropical Storm or Typhoon Disarming Alert) indicates that a tropical storm or typhoon has landed (or weakened to a low pressure).

Typhoon warning signals used from November 1st 2000 to May 2006[17]

Name Signal Meaning
White typhoon alert Taf1.gif Tropical cyclones may affect the area within 48 hours.
Green typhoon alert Taf2.gif Tropical cyclones will be within 24 hours or are affecting the area, with an average wind level of strong winds (6-7) (41-62 km/h).
Yellow typhoon alert Kj3.gif Tropical cyclones will be within 12 hours or are affecting the area, with an average winds level of strong gale (8-9) (63-87 km/h).
Red typhoon alert Ty4.gif Tropical cyclones will be within 12 hours or are affecting the area, with an average winds level of strong storm (10-11) (88-117 km/h).
Black typhoon alert Jk5.gif Tropical cyclones will be within 12 hours or are affecting the area, with an average winds level of typhoon (>12).

Typhoon warning signals used from June 1st 2006 to December 31 2014[18]:

Name Signal Meaning
White typhoon alert Typhoon 1 white.jpg Tropical cyclones may affect the area within 48 hours.
Blue typhoon alert Typhoon 2 blue.jpg It may be affected by tropical cyclones within 24 hours, the average wind power can reach above level 6, or gusts above 7; or it has been affected by tropical cyclones with an average wind power of 6-7, or gusts of 7-8, and may continue.
Yellow typhoon alert Typhoon 3 yellow.jpg It may be affected by tropical cyclones within 24 hours, the average wind power can reach above level 8, or gusts above 9; or it has been affected by tropical cyclones with an average wind power of 8-9, or gusts of 9-10, and may continue.
Orange typhoon alert Typhoon 4 orange.jpg It may be affected by tropical cyclones within 12 hours, the average wind power can reach above level 10, or gusts above 11; or it has been affected by tropical cyclones with an average wind power of 10-11, or gusts of 11-12, and may continue.
Red typhoon alert Typhoon 5 red.jpg It may be affected by tropical cyclones within 6 hours, the average wind power can reach above level 12; or it has been affected by tropical cyclones with an average wind power of 12, and may continue.

Typhoon warning signals used since January 1st 2015[19]:

Name Signal Meaning
White typhoon alert 2015版广东省突发气象灾害预警信号之台风预警信号 Tropical cyclones may affect the area within 48 hours.
Blue typhoon alert 2015版广东省突发气象灾害预警信号之台风预警信号 It may be affected by tropical cyclones within 24 hours, the average wind power can reach above level 6, or gusts above 7; or it has been affected by tropical cyclones with an average wind power of 6-7, or gusts of 7-8, and may continue.
Yellow typhoon alert 2015版广东省突发气象灾害预警信号之台风预警信号 It may be affected by tropical cyclones within 24 hours, the average wind power can reach above level 8, or gusts above 9; or it has been affected by tropical cyclones with an average wind power of 8-9, or gusts of 9-10, and may continue.
Orange typhoon alert 2015版广东省突发气象灾害预警信号之台风预警信号 It may be affected by tropical cyclones within 12 hours, the average wind power can reach above level 10, or gusts above 11; or it has been affected by tropical cyclones with an average wind power of 10-11, or gusts of 11-12, and may continue.
Red typhoon alert 2015版广东省突发气象灾害预警信号之台风预警信号 It may be affected by tropical cyclones within 6 hours, the average wind power can reach above level 12; or it has been affected by tropical cyclones with an average wind power of 12, and may continue.
Shenzhen[edit]

Shenzhen currently uses a different signal from Guangdong Province[18][20]:

Zhuhai[edit]

Zhuhai adopts the signal style of Guangdong Province, but the meaning of the signal is different[21]:

Ball signal[edit]

Shenzhen and Zhuhai[edit]

Shenzhen and Zhuhai used digitally arranged typhoon signals from June 4 1994 to November 1 2000[22], but they have now been replaced by typhoon warning signals.

Ports[edit]

The coastal ports of various cities in mainland China will still hang the squash signal when the typhoon hits[23]. The sign is roughly the same as the typhoon signal used in Shenzhen and Zhuhai[24].

Hong Kong and Macau[edit]

The Pearl River Delta uses a variety of warning systems to inform the public regarding the risks of tropical cyclones to the area. The Hong Kong Observatory issues typhoon signals to indicate the existence and effects of a tropical cyclone on Hong Kong. The Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau in Macau uses a similar system. [25]The signal system consists of 8 signals in 5 levels numbered non-consecutively for historical reasons. [26][27] Each signal has a day signal and a night signal for hoisting, which are still hoisted in Macau but no longer hoisted in Hong Kong. Day signals are also used as signal symbols in both places.

  • Signal No. 1: A tropical cyclone is centred within 800 km of the territory and may affect the territory later.
  • Signal No. 3: Strong wind with a sustained speed of 41–62 km/h, gusts may exceed 110 km/h.
  • Signals Nos. 8 NW, 8 SW, 8 NE, 8 SE: Gale or storm force wind with a sustained speed of 63–117 km/h from the northwest, southwest, northeast, southeast quadrants respectively, gusts may exceed 180 km/h.
  • Signal No. 9: (Hong Kong) Gale or storm force wind is increasing or expected to increase significantly in strength. / (Macau) The centre of a tropical cyclone is approaching and Macau is expected to be severely affected.
  • Signal No. 10: Hurricane force wind with a sustained speed over 118 km/h, gusts may exceed 220 km/h.

Japan[edit]

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is the government agency responsible for gathering and providing results for the public in Japan, that are obtained from data based on daily scientific observation and research into natural phenomena in the fields of meteorology, hydrology, seismology and volcanology, among other related scientific fields. Its headquarters is located in Tokyo.

is also designated one of the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centers (RSMC) of the World Meteorological Organization. It has the responsibility for weather forecasting, tropical cyclone naming and distribution of warnings for tropical cyclones in the Northwestern Pacific region.

Philippines[edit]

Signal #1
winds of 30–60 km/h (20-37 mph) are expected to occur within 36 hours
Signal #2
winds of 61–120 km/h (38–73 mph) are expected to occur within 24 hours
Signal #3
winds of 121–170 km/h, (74–105 mph) are expected to occur within 18 hours.
Signal #4
winds of 171–220 km/h, (106–137 mph) are expected to occur within 12 hours.
Signal #5
winds of at least 220 km/h, (137 mph) are expected to occur within 12 hours.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) releases tropical cyclone warnings in the form of Public Storm Warning Signals (or just storm signals).[28] An area having a storm signal may be under:

  • PSWS #1 - Tropical cyclone winds of 30–60 km/h are expected within the next 36 hours. (Note: If a tropical cyclone forms very close to the area, then a shorter lead time is seen on the warning bulletin.)
  • PSWS #2 - Tropical cyclone winds of 61–120 km/h are expected within the next 24 hours.
  • PSWS #3 - Tropical cyclone winds of 121–170 km/h are expected within the next 18 hours.
  • PSWS #4 - Tropical cyclone winds of 171–220 km/h are expected within 12 hours.
  • PSWS #5 - Tropical cyclone winds greater than 220 km/h are expected within 12 hours.

These storm signals are usually hoisted when an area (in the Philippines only) is about to be hit by a tropical cyclone. Thus, as a tropical cyclone gains strength and/or gets closer to an area having a storm signal, it may be raised to another higher signal in that particular area. Whereas, as a tropical cyclone weakens and/or gets farther away from an area, it may be downgraded to a lower signal or may be lifted (that is, an area will have no storm signal).

South Pacific basin[edit]

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology will issue a cyclone watch for a specified part of Australia, when a tropical cyclone is expected to cause gale-force winds in excess of 62 km/h (40 mph) within 24–48 hours and subsequently make landfall.[29] A cyclone warning is subsequently issued for a specified part of Australia when a tropical cyclone, is expected to cause or is causing gale-force winds in excess of 62 km/h (40 mph) within 24 hours and is subsequently expected to make landfall.[29]

The Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS) issues a tropical cyclone alert for the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu, when a tropical cyclone has a significant probability of causing gale-force winds or stronger winds within 24–48 hours.[30] Gale, storm and hurricane-force wind warnings are subsequently issued for the above areas by FMS, when a tropical cyclone is either causing or expected to cause either gale storm or hurricane-force winds within 24 hours.[30]

Météo-France is responsible for the issuance of tropical cyclone watches and warnings for New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia and the Pitcairn Islands.[30] The National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of the Solomon Islands, Samoa, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Timor Leste and American Samoa are responsible for their own watches and warnings.[30]

Indian Ocean systems[edit]

The India Meteorological Department (IMD/RSMC New Delhi) is responsible for tracking tropical cyclones within the North Indian Ocean. Météo-France in Réunion (MFR/RSMC La Reunion) is responsible for the issuing advisories and tracking of tropical cyclones in the southwest part of the basin, however, the naming of systems is deferred to the Mauritius and Madagascar weather services.

India[edit]

Cyclone Watch
Cyclonic storm conditions possible within 72 hours.
Cyclone Alert
Cyclonic storm conditions possible within 48 hours.
Cyclone Warning
Cyclonic storm conditions expected within 24 hours.
Landfall Outlook
Cyclonic storm conditions expected within 12 hours.

The IMD issues warnings in four stages for the Indian coast.

  • Stage 1: Cyclone watch - Issued 72 hours in advance, it discusses the likelihood of development of a cyclonic disturbance in the north Indian Ocean and the coastal region likely to experience adverse weather.
  • Stage 2: Cyclone alert - Issued 48 hours in advance of the commencement of adverse weather over the coastal areas.
  • Stage 3: Cyclone warning - Issued 24 hours in advance of the commencement of adverse weather over the coastal areas. The location of landfall is discussed at this stage.
  • Stage 4: Landfall outlook - Issued 12 hours in advance of the commencement of adverse weather over the coastal areas. The track of the cyclone after the landfall and the possible impact inland is discussed at this stage.

Cyclonic storm conditions mean what winds in excess of 63 km/h (39 mph) are possible.[31]

Military advisories[edit]

Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness[edit]

The United States Department of Defense uses a multi-stage system called the Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness (TC-CORs) otherwise known as the Hurricane Condition of Readiness (HURCONs), to prepare bases and evacuate assets and personnel in advance of adverse weather associated with tropical cyclones.[32]

TC-COR Hours Notes
5 96 This is set by military bases in the US, throughout the Atlantic hurricane season.
4 72 Guam is in TC-COR 4 throughout the year, while Japanese bases set this from June 1 - November 30.
3 48 Destructive winds are possible within 48 hours.
2 24 Destructive winds are now expected within 24 hours.
1 12 Destructive winds are now expected within 12 hours, but gale force winds are not yet occurring.
1C 12 Gale-force winds are occurring.
1E 0 Winds of above 50 kn (58 mph; 93 km/h) are occurring.
1R Winds of above 50 kn (58 mph; 93 km/h) are no longer occurring, but gale-force winds are occurring.
Storm Watch The system is moving away but the base is still feeling some effects.
All-Clear Revert to seasonal TC-COR

TC-CORs are recommended by weather facilities either on base or by central sites like the National Hurricane Center or the Joint Typhoon Warning Center and are generally related to the timing and potential for destructive sustained windspeeds of above 50 kn (58 mph; 93 km/h).[32] Recommendations are then considered by base or area commanders along with other subjective factors for setting the TC-CORs like assets, holidays or the bases experience in emergency preparedness.[32] The bases prefer to set these TC-CORs sequentially, from TC-COR 5 with destructive winds expected within 96 hours, through TC-COR 4, 3, 2 and if needed to a series of four different TC-COR 1 conditions, however depending on the cyclone's movement or location some of these signals can be skipped.[32][33] After a system passes and stops affecting the base, the authorities can decide to revert to the seasonal TC-COR or stay in a heightened approach as another tropical cyclone is approaching.[32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Regional Specialized Meteorological Center". Tropical Cyclone Program (TCP). World Meteorological Organization. April 25, 2006. Retrieved November 5, 2006.
  2. ^ Fiji Meteorological Service (2017). "Services". Retrieved 2017-06-04.
  3. ^ Joint Typhoon Warning Center (2017). "Products and Service Notice". United States Navy. Retrieved 2017-06-04.
  4. ^ National Hurricane Center (March 2016). "National Hurricane Center Product Description Document: A User's Guide to Hurricane Products" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2017-06-03.
  5. ^ Japan Meteorological Agency (2017). "Notes on RSMC Tropical Cyclone Information". Retrieved 2017-06-04.
  6. ^ RA IV Hurricane Committee (May 30, 2013). Hurricane Operational Plan (PDF) (Technical Document). World Meteorological Organization. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 16, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Glossary of NHC Terms". United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service. March 25, 2013. Archived from the original on December 16, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Tropical Cyclone Products (PDF) (National Weather Service Instruction 10-601). United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service. June 11, 2013. pp. 4–9, 56. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 16, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  9. ^ a b National Weather Service. "Product Description Document: Extreme Wind Warning (EWW)" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-10-04.
  10. ^ U.S. Department of Commerce. "Service Assessment. Hurricane Katrina: August 23–31, 2005" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
  11. ^ Storm surge watch & warning to become operational in 2017 (pdf) (Report). United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service. January 23, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  12. ^ "Be Prepared for Hurricane Season in Cancun". Royal Sunset. October 22, 2013. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  13. ^ https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/types-weather-forecasts-use/public/criteria-alerts.html
  14. ^ Typhoon.gov.cn Archived August 30, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ CMA.gov.cn Archived August 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ 广州市防风工作方案
  17. ^ 广东省台风、暴雨、寒冷预警信号发布规定
  18. ^ a b "台风预警信号 - 深圳市气象局". szmb.gov.cn. Archived from the original on 2010-08-24.
  19. ^ "存档副本". Archived from the original on 2014-12-31. Retrieved 2014-12-31.
  20. ^ "深圳市台风暴雨灾害公众防御指引(试行)". szmb.gov.cn. Archived from the original on 2015-02-16.
  21. ^ "珠海气象局". zhmb.gov.cn. Archived from the original on 2014-12-31.
  22. ^ 深圳经济特区防洪防风规定
  23. ^ 廣州市氣象台风球信号说明
  24. ^ _rCNkpGzGqY&t show on YouTube
  25. ^ "Meaning of Tropical Cyclone Signals and the relevant recommended safety precautions". Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  26. ^ John YK Leung and WH Lui (9 August 2012). "Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No.5 in the Past". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  27. ^ "History of the Hong Kong Tropical Cyclone Warning Signals". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  28. ^ "Philippine Tropical Cyclone Warning Signals". Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  29. ^ a b "Tropical Cyclone Warning Advice". Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  30. ^ a b c d RA V Tropical Cyclone Committee (December 12, 2012). Tropical Cyclone Operational Plan for the South-East Indian Ocean and the Southern Pacific Ocean 2012 (PDF) (Report). World Meteorological Organization. pp. 7–13. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 1, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  31. ^ "Four Stage Warning". India Meteorological Department. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  32. ^ a b c d e Sampson, Charles R; Schumacher, Andrea B; Knaff, John A; DeMaria, Mark; Fukada, Edward M; Sisko, Chris A; Roberts, David P; Winters, Katherine A; Wilson, Harold M. "Objective Guidance for Use in Setting Tropical Cyclone Conditions of Readiness". Weather and Forecasting. 27 (4): 1052–1060. Bibcode:2012WtFor..27.1052S. doi:10.1175/WAF-D-12-00008.1.
  33. ^ Fleet Weather Center (February 8, 2013). "Tropical Cyclone Quick Reference Guide 2013" (PDF). United States Navy. p. 2. Retrieved December 15, 2013.

External links[edit]