12/19/2015, 00.00
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Pacific Ocean: 2015 was a record year for typhoons in number and intensity

According to the Colorado State University's Atlantic seasonal hurricane forecast, 2015 has broken the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index record set in 1992. Things may get worse yet as Typhoon Melor roars across the Philippines, killing nine and displacing tens of thousands of people who will spend Christmas without “potable water”. For meteorologist, the North-western Pacific has had a record “16 major storms reaching Category 3”.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – This has been a record year for powerful hurricanes and typhoons in the Pacific Ocean, and they just keep coming, this according to Phil Klotzbach, lead author of Colorado State University's Atlantic seasonal hurricane forecast.

The Accumulated Cyclone Energy index, which meteorologists use to plot the intensity of a tropical season, has in fact set a record in the Pacific this year. Across the ocean, the index was 765 through Tuesday, breaking the old mark of 760 set in 1992. Chances are it that it might rise even before the end of the year.

Typhoon Melor, which hit the Philippines a few days ago, peaked at Category 4 strength on the US Saffir-Simpson scale. However, "There is another feature already developing south of Guam," said Mr Dan Kottlowski, a meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, Pennsylvania.

"In a few days,” he added, “we will probably have another tropical storm or typhoon." Guam is located some 2,000 kilometres east of the Philippines.

Whilst Melor missed many of the Philippines' most heavily populated areas, Kottlowski estimated as much as 30 centimetres had drenched portions of the country. He noted that the next storm should be watched because it might follow a different path.

Still, the greatest threat for the Philippines is heavy rain. Disaster officials said nine people were killed and hundreds spent the night on Wednesday huddled on their roofs as floods inundated villages in the central Philippines.

"Many people will spend Christmas in evacuation centres without power and potable water," said Disaster official Jonathan Baldo. What is more, "It may take three to four months to restore power in the province after power lines and electricity posts were toppled by strong winds".

In the Pacific, December and January are usually the worst months in terms of weather because of El Niño (the Christ child), the episodic appearance of unusually warm ocean conditions along the tropical west coast of South America with adverse effects and far-field climatic anomalies in the equatorial Pacific but also in Asia and North America.

In fact, Klotzbach noted that that the coast of the North-western Pacific has had a record 16 major storms reaching Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The previous mark was 15 in 1958 and 1965.

In 2015, the Northern Hemisphere saw 26 Category 4 or 5 systems, the strongest on the scale, breaking the record of 18 set in 1997 and 2004.

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