Over the past several years I have noticed a difference in opinions of people across the western pacific and the world on this exact question, “Who is the official Typhoon Warning Agency?” From what I have seen and heard from many around the world is that most have no clue so I am here to set the record straight.
First I want to start off by mentioning that in the Western Pacific there are over Ten Forecast Agencies that create Tropical Cyclone Forecast at one time or another pending how close a storm is to there respected countries. They are the Japan Meteorological Agency, China Meteorological Agency, Hong Kong Observatory,Indonesia Meteorological Agency, Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Korea Meteorological Association,Malaysia Meteorological Agency, PAGASA, Taiwan, Thailand Meteorological Department and more. All these forecast agencies create there own graphics and provide valuable information to there respected countries. With one exception, one of these agencies is not part of the World Meteorological Organization. (WMO) Yet this agency gets displayed on numerous website and even mainstream TV organizations (that should remain nameless) as a official warning agency. That is the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).
Let me start off by saying that JTWC is a great agency in its own right and for what it does. Forecasting the Weather for the US Military. The JTWC is not one of the WMO designated Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres, or one of its Typhoon Warning Centers. This forecast Agency was created to support United States Government and mainly military installations after the disaster of Typhoon Cobra that sunk four ships East of the Philippines in 1944. Being part of the military in my past and actually working with this agency I can honestly say they are designed and dedicated to stopping a disaster like that happening again. With that said the general public should not use this agency, end of story and for numerous reasons. A main one is they point at US Bases over seas in there long range forecast. If you don’t believe this next time look closely at a initial warning from JTWC, it is always towards a US Military Base, the most recent case was Guam with Sanvu, the storm obviously was going to go south of the island yet the initial warning pushed right over it. This is often the case with Okinawa, we always get worried emails from people in Okinawa when they see the forecast showing a deadly storm blasting the southern Japanese Island, yet after pointing them towards the official agency they get more relieved as the forecast typically is pointing away from the military installation. The reason they do this is for planning purposes, most bases take time to get ready for a storm, and better to make it worst case scenario than be under forecasted. Another reason is the forecasters for this agency are typically rotating in and out over a two year period, unlike the doctors and experienced hardened people who forecast for the official agencies such as JMA. Lastly is the plain and fairly obvious statement on there website that reads.
Products on this website are intended for use by U.S. government agencies. Please consult your national meteorological agency or the appropriate World Meteorological Organization Regional Specialized Meteorological Center for tropical cyclone products pertinent to your country, region and/or local area.
Once again, I do think this agency is good at what they do and I always use them when comparing with other agencies on a forecast track, but when discussing official warnings and dealing with typhoon planning a civilian whom has nothing to do with the US military should not consult JTWC.
With that said, back to the question, who is official?
According to the WMO it is RSMC TOKYO or the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). They are the hub of the Typhoon Committee established in 1968 and communicate with all the other WMO Agencies in regards to typhoon tracks. (JTWC not in the Typhoon Committee.) Below is a graphic from the WMO Stating where the official Agency boundaries are.
The other cyclone warning agencies across the western pacific and eastern asia are responsible for their specific countries and creating typhoon warnings and watches for there local areas based on the threats they deem to be most severe, yet this does not stop them from issuing forecast as well but remember above they communicate with the typhoon committe before, while, and after doing so.
All of these agencies also follow the WMO rules for naming these storms, with the exception of PAGASA (Philippines) who names their own storms. This is due to a few reasons two of them being the government feels people in Rural areas would remember the name easier and it gives the general public in the Philippines a more sense of urgency when it has a local name by PAGASA. Further more some old laws and governmental fixtures that keep things the way they are in the Philippines. Read this article from GMA a news source in the Philippines for more information.
So with that said, JMA is the official agency of the Western Pacific for Cyclone Warnings and Watches.
As always I welcome your opinion and comments. Please keep them respectful and kind, but a little debate never hurt either.
Spamming and trolling as always will not be tolerated.
~Meteorologist Robert Speta