2002 Pacific Typhoon Season - Season Summary and Predictions

Season Summary and Predictions

On March 6, meteorologists from University College London at TropicalStormRisk.com issued a forecast for the season, indicating the potential for average activity due to sea surface temperatures expected to be slightly warmer than usual; the group used data by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), and compared the potential 28.6 storms to the 30 year average of 26.3. A month later, the group increased their forecast to 29.6 storms, which was risen further to 30.5 in early May; the group ultimately overestimated the number of storms that would form. The Laboratory for Atmospheric Research at the City University of Hong Kong also issued a forecast in April 2002 for the season, predicting 27 storms with a margin of error of 3, of which 11 would become typhoons, with a margin of error of 2. The agency noted a stronger than normal subtropical ridge over the open Pacific Ocean, as well as ongoing El Niño conditions, which would make conditions favorable for development; however, the group expected below-normal development in the South China Sea. The group was largely accurate in its predictions.

During the year, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued advisories on tropical cyclones west of the International Date Line to the Malay Peninsula, and north of the equator; this was due to the agency's status as the official Regional Specialized Meteorological Center, as designated by the World Meteorological Organization in 1989. The JMA issued forecasts and analyses four times a day, beginning at 0000 UTC and continuing every six hours. The JMA issued forecasts based on a climatological tropical cyclone forecast model. The agency estimated 10 minute sustained winds and barometric pressure based on the Dvorak technique and numerical weather prediction. The JTWC also issued warnings on storms within the basin, operating from Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to represent the interests of the United States Armed Forces in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The JTWC had a backup facility in Monterrey, California for the first time in 2002, having moved from Yokosuka, Kanagawa in Japan. The agency began with several meteorologists leaving, although the new forecasters compensated for their inexperience by relying on the consensus of various forecast models. Beginning in 2002, the JTWC began experimenting with forecasting to five days in the future.

During most of the year, sea surface temperatures were above normal near the equator for most of the year, and were highest around 160º E from January to July, and in November. Areas of convection developed further east than usual, causing many storms to develop east of 150º E. The average point of formation was 145.9º E, which was the easternmost since 1951. Partially as a result, no tropical storms made landfall in the Philippines for the first time since 1951, according to the JMA. Two storms – Ele and Huko – entered the basin from the Central Pacific, east of the International Date Line. Overall, there were 26 named storms in the basin in 2002, which was slightly below the normal of 26.7. Of the storms, 15 became typhoons, which was a slightly higher than normal proportion of storms becoming typhoons.

The season began early and became active in June, when six storms passed near or over Japan after a ridge weakened. Nine storms developed in July, many of which influenced the monsoon trough over the Philippines to produce heavy rainfall and deadly flooding. The flooding was worst in Luzon, where the floods killed at least 85 people. The series of storms caused the widespread closure of schools and offices. Many roads were damaged, and the floods left about $1.8 million (P94.2 million 2002 PHP) in crop damage, largely to rice and corn. Overall damage from the series of storms was estimated at $10.3 million (₱522 million 2002 PHP). From June to September, heavy rainfall affected large portions of China, resulting in devastating flooding that killed over 1,500 people and left $8.2 billion (¥68 billion 2002 CNY) in damage. During this time, Tropical Storm Kammuri struck southern China with a large area of rainfall that damaged or destroyed 245,000 houses. There were 153 deaths related to the storm, mostly inland in Hunan, and damage totaled $322 million (¥2.665 billion 2002 CNY).

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