Is the Pope being tracked by a typhoon? It should have been a safe choice for the head of the Catholic Church to visit the Philippines at this time of the year. Typhoons in January are rare: in the last century, only about a dozen January typhoons have hit the Philippines.

The eye of Typhoon Mekkhala was just off the shore of Samar when the Pope's plane had to leave. Winds were battering the coast to the northeast of Tacloban at speeds up to 130kph. The waves were whipped up to a height of seven metres. It will be a weaker but wetter storm when it joins the Pope in Manila.

The 2014 tropical storm season ended in November and the 2015 season shouldn’t really start until May. January, far from a wet month, should have only 7 days of rain with an average rainfall in Manila of 20mm.
2014 is confirmed as the warmest recorded by man, and the ocean stores most of our warmth. The Philippine Sea is already one of the warmest pools in the world but logically may get warmer still.

This is relevant because sea surface temperatures above 26C are one of the triggers for tropical storms. Already the Philippine Sea gives birth to many, if not most, of the Pacific typhoons, but these are often steered northwards, away from the Philippines.

At this time of the year, tropical storms are more likely to be steered to the west – towards Samar or Luzon. Currently, January 2015, the Philippine Sea is 1.5 degrees C above its long term average at around 28 degrees C. Don’t be surprised by further tropical cyclones anytime soon.

Source: Al Jazeera