14. Super Typhoon SONGDA (Nina/22w)     Print this Article
>> August 27 - September 11, 2004

Songda: contributed by Vietnam, is a branch of the Red River (the largest in northern Vietnam) which rises in China and is characterized by waterfalls with high hydroelectric potential.


Songda was the second super typhoon to affect the Marianas and Japan in a week, forming a one-two with Super Typhoon Chaba. Songda formed in a similar location to Chaba and followed an almost identical track across the Pacific, through the northern Marianas before recurving and making landfall over Japan, the third typhoon to strike that nation so far this year.

Storm Origins

At 1100 UTC 26 August JTWC issued a STWO including a new area of convection which had developed and persisted approximately 210 nm north- east of Kwajalein. This is roughly the same area that spawned Super Typhoon Chaba. Animated multi-spectral satellite imagery revealed that the deep convection was becoming more organized over an already established LLCC. As upper-level analysis indicated weak vertical shear and favourable divergence over the area, the potential for development was assessed as fair. A TCFA followed at 27/1130 UTC, by which time the disturbance was passing north of Kwajalein. Deep convection continued to consolidate over the centre and multi-spectral imagery noted a weak spiral banding feature. The first warning on Tropical Depression 22W was released by JTWC at 27/1200 UTC, locating the centre 270 nm east of Eniwetak, moving westward at 6 kts.

Synoptic History

From the time of the first warning at 1200 UTC 27 August it was all systems go. Because of the ideal environmental conditions it was located in, Tropical Depression 22W underwent rapid strengthening and was soon upgraded to tropical storm intensity at 27/1800 UTC, but the system had to wait a further six hours to be assigned the name Songda. JMA upgraded the MSW to 35 kts (10-min avg) at 28/0000 UTC. Rapid intensification continued, bringing Songda to the verge of typhoon intensity by 28/1200 UTC. The early stages of eyewall development were noted on a 29/1444 UTC AMSR-E microwave pass. Intensification then ceased for awhile. Mean- while, Songda had been tracking steadily west-northwestwards and was located approximately 175 nm northwest of Eniwetak at 29/0000 UTC. The storm passed north of that island between 28/1400-1500 UTC, bringing sustained winds of tropical storm force and gusts to typhoon force. The tropical cyclone was following the periphery of the low to mid-level ridge located to the north and was expected to continue to do so over the next few days.

Continuing on its west-northwesterly heading, Songda reached typhoon intensity at 0600 UTC 29 August approximately 760 nm east of Saipan. At this time the MSW was raised to 70 kts based on CI estimates of 55 and 65 kts. There was no further strengthening during the 29th, and in fact there was very little else to report through the day, other than a typhoon watch being issued for the island of Agrihan at 29/1558 UTC, and also a brief westerly turn at 29/1800 UTC. Typhoon Songda was still located some 580 nm east of Saipan, but the other island communities of the northern Marianas were, by this time, more than aware of the storm's presence, especially after Super Typhoon Chaba's rampage through there only a week before. Songda strengthened a little more to 75 kts at 30/0000 UTC and the system began to expand in areal coverage. The tropical cyclone took a brief westerly jog as it resumed its intensifi- cation phase at 30/1200 UTC. By 1800 UTC Songda had become a rather strong typhoon with a MSW of 95 kts.

At 0000 UTC 31 August Typhoon Songda was moving west-northwest at 10 kts across the Pacific with an increased MSW of 105 kts. At this time it was located 250 nm east-northeast of Saipan. During the 31st Typhoon Songda intensified significantly to 120 kts at 0600 UTC, to 125 kts at 1200 UTC, and to 130 kts six hours later. Thus, Songda became the fifth super typhoon of 2004. The wind radii was representative of an average to large-sized typhoon with gales extending up to 180 nm southwest of the centre and 64-kt winds up to 50 nm in all quadrants. For the northern Marianas there was good news and bad news. The good news was that Songda had made a brief northwest turn at 31/1200 UTC, ensuring that Saipan and Tinian would escape the worst of the winds. Unfortunately, this left Pagan and Agrihan to bear the brunt of the storm, and typhoon-force wind gusts were being observed on Pagan and Agrihan as the eyewall of Songda approached. At 31/2100 UTC the eye was located about 29 nm east of Pagan and 40 nm northeast of Alamagan.

Songda was not a super typhoon for long. The MSW were lowered to 125 kts at 0000 UTC 1 September, but this intensity was maintained for the rest of the day. At this time the typhoon had slowed to around 7 kts and was moving towards the northwest. The centre of Songda passed about 17 nm north-northeast of Agrihan at 01/0300 UTC. The tropical cyclone subsequently accelerated and turned back towards the west- northwest at 01/1200 UTC. Continuing west-northwestward, Typhoon Songda began to slowly weaken on the 2nd with the MSW falling 5 kts per warning, bringing the intensity down to 105 kts at 02/1200 UTC. However, the storm began to pick up once again and the MSW rose back up to 110 kts at 02/1800 UTC. Animated satellite imagery indicated an increase in pole- ward outflow which had resulted in improved convection on the northern side of Songda's circulation. The cyclone had also turned westwards and was now heading for its next port of call--Okinawa.

At 0000 UTC 3 September Typhoon Songda was moving westwards at 10 kts approximately 525 nm east-southeast of Okinawa. The intensity had held steady during the past six hours, but once again increased to 115 kts at 03/0600 UTC and to 120 kts at 03/1200 UTC. At 03/0600 UTC Typhoon Songda had earned another name--Nina--after entering PAGASA's area of warning responsibility. The storm began to slow as it turned west-northwestward at 03/1800 UTC. By 04/0000 UTC Songda had moved to a position 300 nm southeast of Okinawa and turned northwestward toward the island at 04/0600 UTC. At this time, a combination of AMSR-E, TRMM, and AMSU microwave data revealed nearly symmetric convection surrounding the eye with the most intense convection located in the eastern eyewall. As Songda began to approach Okinawa it strengthened a little more, reaching a secondary peak of 125 kts at 04/1200 UTC. This was maintained for the rest of the day.

Typhoon Songda's strength began to wane as it neared Okinawa. The MSW dropped to 120 kts at 0000 UTC 5 September when it was located 80 nm southeast of Okinawa. Typhoon Songda passed a short distance north of the island at 05/1000 UTC with the lowest SLP of 924 mb recorded at 0928 UTC. Weakening continued as the storm tracked to the northwest. The intensity fell to 110 kts at 05/1200 UTC and remained at this strength for another six hours. Songda turned north-northwestward at 06/0000 UTC, and then northwards as it pushed through the ridge axis on its way towards Japan. The 06/0000 UTC placed the centre 285 nm south-southwest of Sasebo, Japan. The MSW fell below 100 kts at this time and down to 90 kts at 06/1200 UTC as Songda recurved north-northeastwards and began to accelerate. Water vapor imagery at 06/1800 UTC showed dry air being sucked into the southwestern quadrant.

At 0000 UTC 7 September Songda was about to make landfall on the northwestern coast of Kyushu and at this time was centred 50 nm southwest of Sasebo, Japan. The intensity had held at 90 kts since 1200 UTC of the 6th, but began to slowly drop off as the storm tracked further inland. Songda came ashore near the city of Nagasaki with the MSW (10-min avg) at 80 kts and a CP of 945 hPa. The tropical cyclone accelerated northeastwards at 34 kts as it moved across southwestern Japan. Weakening continued as the typhoon moved into the Sea of Japan. The MSW dropped below typhoon strength and Songda was downgraded to a tropical storm at 07/1800 UTC. By this time its forward speed had increased to 50 kts. JTWC issued the final warning at 1800 UTC, placing the centre approximately 100 nm north of Misawa, Japan. Satellite imagery indicated that Songda was embedded in the subtropical jet and had completed its transformation into an extratropical LOW. JMA released their final bulletin at 08/0600 UTC. The extratropical gale continued eastward as it slowly weakened. By late on the 10th it had crossed the Dateline in the Bering Sea and was last referenced in JMA's bulletins at 11/0000 UTC.

JMA regarded Songda as a Very Severe Typhoon with a peak intensity of 90 kts, and the lowest CP estimated by that agency was 935 hPa. NMCC and CWBB estimated the MSW at 120 kts and 100 kts, respectively. During the time that Songda/Nina was in PAGASA's AOR, the typhoon's maximum intensity was estimated at 85 kts. HKO did not issue warnings on this system since it remained outside their AOR.

Meteorological Observations

Following are some observations from Japan and Korea compiled and sent by Huang Chunliang. A special thanks to Chunliang for sending the information. An asterisk (*) beside any number indicates a new record value for the relevant station. To convert wind speed in metres/second (m/s) to knots (kts), divide m/s by 0.51444, or to approximate, just double the m/s value.

{Part I}. Landfall (based on the JMA warnings)

1. Very Severe Typhoon 0418 (SONGDA) made landfall over 
northern Okinawa Island around 05/1000 UTC with a MSW 
of 45 m/s and a CP of 925 hPa.

2. Severe Typhoon 0418 (SONGDA) made landfall near 
Nagasaki City around 07/0030 UTC with a MSW of 40 
m/s and a CP of 945 hPa.

{Part II}. Top-5 Storm Totals [03/1500-08/1500Z]

Ranking    Prefecture      Station         Rainfall (mm)
01         Miyazaki        Morotsuka       905
02         Miyazaki        Mikado          573
03         Miyazaki        Nishimera       549
04         Ehime           Jojushya        545
05         Tokushima       Kitou           542

{Part III}. Top-5 Daily Rainfall Obs

Ranking    Prefecture    Station      Rainfall (mm)
01         Miyazaki      Morotsuka    358 [05/1500-06/1500Z]
02         Ehime         Jojushya     342 [06/1500-07/1500Z]
03         Miyazaki      Nishimera    304 [05/1500-06/1500Z]
04         Miyazaki      Ebino        301 [06/1500-07/1500Z]
05         Ehime         Tomisato     282 [06/1500-07/1500Z]

{Part IV}. Top-5 Hourly Rainfall Obs

Ranking    Prefecture     Station         Rainfall (mm)
01         Shizuoka       Shimizu        *102 [04/1320-04/1420Z]
02         Nagano         Nagiso         *89 [04/0700-04/0800Z]
02         Mie            Kiraramine     *89 [05/0940-05/1040Z]
04         Shizuoka       Inatori        *88 [04/1120-04/1220Z]
05         Mie            Kiinagashima   *85 [05/1130-05/1230Z]

{Part V}. Top-5 Peak Sustained Wind (10-min avg) Obs

Ranking    Station                                Peak wind (mps/dir)
01     Seto, Ehime (JMA73341, Alt 143m)           *42   [07/0230Z]
02     Nomozaki, Nagasaki (JMA84596, Alt 190m)     38   [06/2330Z]
03     Okinoerabu, Kagoshima (WMO47942, Alt 27m)   36.7 [05/1330Z]
04     Hiroshima, Hiroshima (WMO47765, Alt 4m)     33.3 [07/0540Z]
05     Ube, Yamaguchi (JMA81436, Alt 5m)          *32   [07/0110Z]

{Part VI}. Top-5 Peak Gust Obs

Ranking    Station                                Peak wind (mps/dir)
01     Hiroshima, Hiroshima (WMO47765, Alt 4m)    *60.2 [07/0520Z]
02     Asosan, Kumamoto (WMO47821, Alt 1142m)      57.1 [07/0419Z]
03     Saigou, Shimane (WMO47740, Alt 27m)        *55.8 [07/0809Z]
04     Okinoerabu, Kagoshima (WMO47942, Alt 27m)   53.6 [05/1314Z]
05     Unzendake, Nagasaki (WMO47818, Alt 678m)   *53.2 [07/0122Z]

{Part VII}. Top-5 SLP Obs

Ranking    Station                             Min SLP (hPa)
01         Nago, Okinawa (WMO47940)           *924.4 [05/0928Z]
02         Saga, Saga (WMO47813)               944.3 [07/0140Z]
03         Nagasaki, Nagasaki (WMO47817)       948.0 [07/0044Z]
04         Iizuka, Fukuoka (WMO47809)          948.7 [07/0228Z]
05         Naha, Okinawa (WMO47936)            950.0 [05/0723Z]

{Part VIII} References (Japanese versions only)

{Part IX} Rainfall Obs from the REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Only amounts >= 100 mm listed:

ULLEUNGDO (37.48N 130.90E 220m)      112.0 mm [06/00-07/00Z]
ULLEUNGDO (37.48N 130.90E 220m)      101.5 mm [07/00-08/00Z]
MUNSAN (37.88N 126.75E 31m)          103.4 mm [06/12-07/12Z]
POHANG (36.03N 129.38E 4m)           110.5 mm [06/12-07/12Z]

Damage and Casualties

News reports indicate that Typhoon Songda killed 20 people and injured 700 others in Japan. In addition, 15 crew members of a vessel were reported missing. Songda arrived shortly after three earthquakes had struck the country a few days prior.

(Report written by Kevin Boyle with significant contributions by Huang Chunliang)

Source: Gary Padgett's Monthly Tropical Cyclone Summary - August 2004

© 2004-2005 Typhoon2000.com All Rights Reserved.

[close] :: [top]