Typhoon Bopha was one of 80 to 100 tropical cyclones which develop globally each year. Although many of these form and dissipate over the ocean, a number make landfall and can cause considerable damage to property and loss of life.
A tropical cyclone is the generic term for a low pressure system over tropical or sub-tropical waters, with organised convection (i.e. thunderstorm activity) and winds at low levels circulating either anti-clockwise (in the northern hemisphere) or clockwise (in the southern hemisphere). The whole storm system may be five to six miles high and 300 to 400 miles wide, although sometimes can be even bigger. It typically moves forward at speeds of 10-15 mph, but can travel as fast as 40 mph. At its very early and weak stages it is called a 'tropical depression'. When the winds reach 39 mph it is called a 'tropical storm'. If the wind should reach 74 mph or more the tropical storm is called a 'hurricane' in the Atlantic and the north-east Pacific or a 'typhoon' in the north-west Pacific. In other parts of the world, such as the Indian Ocean and South Pacific the term 'cyclone' or 'tropical cyclone' is used.
Typhoon Bopha occurred in November and December 2012 and was one of the lowest latitude storms for many years. Bopha became a typhoon at just 3.8 degrees from the equator. This makes Bopha the lowest latitude typhoon since Typhoon Vamei in 2001. Bopha continued strengthening and went on to attain what some agencies refer to as 'super typhoon' status (1-minute mean winds near 150 mph). This occurred at 6.1 degrees from the equator - just 0.1 degree shy of the record set by Super Typhoon Kate in 1970.
Typhoon Bopha was the first tropical cyclone worldwide to make landfall with winds of category 5 strength on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale since Typhoon Megi in 2010. Bopha caused much destruction and loss of life in the southern Philippines, particularly Mindanao.
Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres have responsibility for the issues of tropical cyclone warnings in their area and should be used as a first source of information.
StormTracker provides a mapped picture of tropical cyclones (tropical storms, hurricanes, typhoons) around the globe with access to track history and six-day forecast tracks for current tropical cyclones from the Met Office Unified Model and latest observed cloud cover (infra-red and visible satellite) and sea surface temperature.Further information on Met Office StormTracker
The Met Office maintains a Twitter feed on storms which includes regular updates on latest tropical cyclones worldwide.
Last updated: 7 November 2013