The strongest typhoon on record for April has been hammering the Philippines over the past few days, setting off a load of sheltered spots across the archipelago (more on that soon). Typhoon Surigae is an absolute behemoth and was the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane, the strongest rating a hurricane can have, before it started to slow down. Now though, it's heading towards Taiwan and is due to send an incredible run of swell into the east Asian country – perhaps the best it has seen in decades.
We know Taiwan gets surf, of course. There are longboard competitions there every now and then. But to see a chart like this show up, with favourable winds, is pretty much unheard of.
It's not been all peachy with Surigae though. And there's always a dichotomy when reporting on these events. On the one hand, we know there was great surf in the sheltered spots, which we'll bring you images of soon. But on the other, more than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes on the Philippines and at least one person has been killed. Just because it's moving on a northerly track towards Taiwan, doesn't mean this thing is over as it is continuing to rage off the coast for a few more hours. Should there be any humanitarian effort launched, we'll be sure to update this piece with links and any additional information - we'll keep you posted on this, too.
“Typhoon Surigae, or Bising if you are in the Philippines, started life as a tropical disturbance about 900 miles east-southeast of the Philippines on April 12,” said MSW forecaster Tony Butt. “It quickly gained strength, helped by very warm sea-surface temperatures and little vertical shear (shear is the vertical variation of wind strength and direction).
“It became a named tropical storm later that day as it moved steadily towards the west-northwest, tracking around the southern periphery of an area of high pressure.
“Around April 14, it became a severe tropical storm and continued to intensify, hitting typhoon status a few days later as it slowed down and passed just to the north of Palau.
Swell charts: HERE
“It then picked up speed and continued towards the west-northwest, becoming a super-typhoon by April 17, about 200 miles west of the Philippines. Maximum sustained winds reached 140 mph, with gusts up to 190 mph, which made it equivalent to a Category-5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, used for tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic.
“Over the next couple of days, the system slowed down considerably and began to weaken as it passed close to the Philippines. As of 06:00 UTC on the 20th, it was located about 350 miles east-northeast of Manila, with maximum sustained winds of around 110 mph. It is expected to move northeast in the next 48 hours, before arcing around to the northeast and then east. It is expected to accelerate as it interacts with the upper airstream, and gradually weaken at the same time as it hits cooler sea-surface temperatures.
“Surigae is generating large, stormy seas off the Philippines with significant wave heights of around 50 feet and severe warnings in place for coastal areas. It will also generate a pulse of swell, propagating towards Taiwan, southern Japan and other places. Winds are expected to be from a northerly quarter as the system arcs away towards the east. South-facing spots in Taiwan, for example, could have some epic surf from late Wednesday until Friday, with wave heights exceeding ten feet, periods of up to 15 secs, and light northerly winds.”