Described as Earth’s strongest and most dangerous tropical cyclone so far in 2013, Category 4 Super Typhoon Utor screamed across the western Pacific Ocean from August 8 – 18, striking both the Philippines and China before dissipating.
First appearing as an area of disturbed weather east of the Philippines on August 8, by August 10 the storm had gained an eye, and was given the name of Tropical Cyclone Utor. The mega-storm reached its maximum one minute sustained wind speed of 150 mph (241 km/h) as it approached the island of Luzon. A well-timed eye wall replacement cycle weakened the storm slightly just before landfall early on August 12 near Dinalungan and Casiguran. At that time, the wind speed was reported at 138 mph (222 km/h). After leaving a swath of uprooted trees, power outages, floods and mudslides – and killing at least ten people, a weakened Utor took aim on mainland China.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of Tropical Storm Utor approaching China at 5:45 UTC (1:45 a.m. EDT) on August 14. The edge of the eye wall appears to be impacting land, and bands of strong thunderstorms can be seen well onshore.
Less than two hours after this image was captured, at about 7:30 UTC (3:30 a.m. EDT), Typhoon Utor’s center made landfall in Guangdong Province. The Guangdong Provincial Meteorological Observatory reported wind speeds as high as 95 mph (151 km/h). After making landfall, Utor weakened and eventually dissipated well inland. At least twenty people died, and seven were reported missing in Guangdong Province, and over four million people were affected by flooding and rain.