|First system formed February 27, 1959|
Total storms 25
|Last system dissipated January 2, 1960|
Total depressions 33
The 1959 Pacific typhoon season was regarded as one of the most devastating years for Pacific typhoons on record, with China, Japan and South Korea sustaining catastrophic losses.
- Tropical Storm Ruby
- Tropical Storm Sally
- Typhoon Tilda
- Tropical Depression Violet
- Tropical Depression Wilda
- Tropical Depression Anita
- Typhoon Billie
- Typhoon Ellen
- Tropical Depression Fran
- Typhoon Georgia
- Tropical Depression Hope
- Typhoon Iris
- Typhoon Joan
- Tropical Storm Kate
- Typhoon Louise
- Tropical Depression Marge
- Tropical Storm Nora
- Tropical Storm Opal
- Typhoon Patsy
- Tropical Depression Ruth
- Typhoon Sarah
- Tropical Depression Thelma
- Typhoon Vera
- Typhoon Amy
- Tropical Storm Babs
- Typhoon Charlotte
- Typhoon Dinah
- Typhoon Emma
- Typhoon Freda
- Typhoon Gilda
- Typhoon Harriet
- 1959 storm names
The scope of this article is limited to the Pacific Ocean, north of the equator and west of the International Date Line. Storms that form east of the Date Line and north of the equator are called hurricanes; see 1959 Pacific hurricane season. All typhoons were assigned a name and number. Tropical storms and tropical depressions formed in the entire west Pacific basin were assigned a name and number by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, but the latter was not added if no reconnaissance missions were assigned. Systems handled by the responsibility of the USWB and FWB featured no number.
The 1959 Pacific typhoon season featured 24 tropical cyclones, though operationally 59 total areas of investigation were classified by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC); three systems were handled by the responsibility of FWB at Pearl Harbor and the USWB at Honolulu. Three systems were questionable due to lack of reconnaissance aircraft use. In total, the season featured 65 tropical cyclones and areas of investigation operationally, including central Pacific Hurricane Patsy, which was operationally believed to have crossed the International Date Line into the western Pacific. The first annual tropical cyclone report for the western North Pacific Ocean was issued by the agency.
Of the 33 tropical cyclones and 65 total areas of investigation, 18 storms attained typhoon status, which was below the yearly average of 19. At least nine other tropical systems never exceeded tropical storm intensity operationally. Most of the systems were noted to have developed within the typical spawning grounds for typhoons originating from easterly waves within the Intertropical Convergence Zone; the exceptions were Ellen and Georgia which developed from cold-core troughs extending southward into the tropical latitudes. Of the 18 typhoons that formed, five were first detected within 300 miles (500 km) of the island of Guam. Three of the typhoons developed at a slow rate, while three others rapidly intensified to typhoon status within hours. Only four typhoons were small in diameter, while at least three typhoons developed to large sizes and became the dominant tropical features during the season. Two of the typhoons — Joan and Vera — featured sea-level pressures below 900 millibars and were the most intense tropical cyclones during the season, each featuring winds of 190 mph (305 km/h) or greater. Of the total number of typhoons, 215 reconnaissance missions were flown into the storms, including 3,799 observations and 391 total fixes. The average track error for each advisory for storms during the season was 63.9 miles (102.8 km) for 12-hour forecasts and 301.6 miles (485.4 km) for 48-hour forecasts.
Tropical Storm Ruby
The first tropical storm of the season was detected by reconnaissance aircraft on February 27 about 300 miles (480 km) south of Yap with winds of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h). Moving erratically westward, Ruby maintained intensity until it passed 90 miles (140 km) south of Palau on February 28, when it began to weaken and move to the west-northwest. Ruby weakened to below tropical storm intensity on March 1 and then turned to the southwest. It dissipated later on the same day 300 miles (480 km) east of Mindanao. Ruby did not affect any major land masses.
Tropical Storm Sally
Three days after Ruby dissipated, the second tropical cyclone of the season was detected 200 miles (320 km) southeast of Majuro in the Marshall Islands with winds of 65 miles per hour (105 km/h) After drifting northwest, Sally moved to the southwest on March 5 and then began to move westward, with its winds fluctuating to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h). Sally soon restrengthened on March 6, reaching a secondary peak of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h), and maintained its intensity for 18 hours as it moved steadily westward. After weakening to 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) on March 8, Sally briefly jogged to the west-northwest on March 9, and it began to re-intensify as it turned back to the west, quickly reaching its third peak of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) on March 10. Sally slowly weakened as it turned to the northwest and slowed in forward speed, with its winds decreasing to 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) on March 11. After briefly restrengthening to 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) on March 12, Sally turned to the west and quickly weakened to a tropical depression. The depression briefly turned to the west-southwest and dissipated on March 13 300 miles (480 km) east of Mindanao.
One month after Sally dissipated, the first typhoon of the season formed from a closed cyclonic circulation 300 miles (480 km) south of Chuuk. The circulation drifted westward, and reports from the surface showed intensification. On April 14 a reconnaissance aircraft mission estimated winds of tropical storm force, and the third tropical storm of the season was named Tilda. Tilda slowly moved northwest on April 15 as it intensified into a typhoon. Tilda then moved generally to the northwest with minor fluctuations on April 16 and on the following day before turning northward on April 18, when it rapidly intensified. Tilda attained its peak intensity of 145 mph (233 km/h) 400 miles (640 km) west of Guam on April 19, and it slowly weakened as it turned north-northeast and decreased in forward speed. The typhoon became quasi-stationary for 30 hours on April 20, weakening to a minimal typhoon in the process by the next day. After drifting under weak steering currents, Tilda accelerated to the north-northeast on April 22 and weakened to a tropical storm. Tilda dissipated on April 23 as it merged with the upper-level westerlies 130 miles (210 km) southwest of Iwo Jima. Thirty-seven warnings for Tilda were issued by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center over the course of seven days. Tilda caused no damage or direct deaths.
Tropical Depression Violet
Tropical Depression Violet existed offshore Vietnam from June 28 to June 29.
Tropical Depression Wilda
After two months of inactivity, a tropical depression formed on July 4 in the South China Sea 480 miles (770 km) west of Luzon. After briefly drifting northeast, the depression moved erratically northward on July 5, and it made landfall on mainland China east of Hong Kong on July 6. The depression quickly dissipated after moving inland. Operationally the system was classified as a tropical storm under the name Wilda, but post-analysis determined the tropical cyclone never attained winds of 39 mph (60 km/h) or greater. No reconnaissance aircraft investigated the system, which was one of only three disturbances not monitored during the season.
Tropical Depression Anita
Tropical Depression Anita existed in the vicinity of the Federated States of Micronesia from July 4 to July 6.
An area of disturbed weather east of the Philippines organized into a tropical depression on July 12. Moving to the northwest, it quickly strengthened, reaching tropical storm status later on July 12 and typhoon strength. After peaking at 105 mph (169 km/h), Billie crossed over northeastern Taiwan, quickly weakened, and made landfall on eastern China on the 15th. A trough of low pressure brought the storm northeastward, where after weakening to a tropical storm, it traversed the Yellow Sea and crossed the Korean Peninsula, losing tropical characteristics on the 18th. Typhoon Billie caused extreme flooding in northeastern Taiwan, causing $500,000 in property damage, leaving 10,000 homeless in the capital city of Taipei, and killing 1. In Japan, the outer edges of the typhoon caused torrential rains, killing 45 and destroying more than 65,000 houses.
115 mph (185 km/h) Typhoon Ellen, which reached its peak while south of Japan on August 4, struck the southern part of the country on the 7th. It paralleled the southern portion of the archipelago, and became extratropical on the 9th over the open western Pacific Ocean. Ellen dropped up to 35 inches (890 mm) of rainfall on Japan, killing 11 and causing severe rice crop damage. Ellen's greatest effect, however, was on Taiwan, where torrential rains associated with the typhoon caused disastrous flooding that killed nearly 700, left tens of thousands homeless, and destroyed much of the transportation infrastructure in the central and southwestern part of the island. Some locations received almost 50 inches of rain in three days, exceeding local annual average totals. The heaviest rain event was on August 7, when as much as 25 inches (640 mm) of rain fell in the mountains and western plains, causing rivers and streams to burst through levees and flood thousands of hectares of farmland, washing away rural villages, and causing widespread urban flooding as well in Taichung and other cities. The economic impact was particularly extensive and long-lasting due to the widespread flooding of farmland. In Taiwan the event is remembered as the "Great August 7 (8-7) Flood".
Tropical Depression Fran
Tropical Depression Fran existed near Guam from August 11 to August 12.
Just 4 days after Ellen hit Japan, 105 mph (169 km/h) Typhoon Georgia hit the southeastern portion of the country. After rapidly crossing the archipelago it dissipated in the Sea of Japan on August 15. Georgia brought more heavy rains to the country, causing 246 fatalities and leaving over 50,000 homeless. Georgia caused torrential damage to Japan's railroad network, and, combined with Typhoon Ellen, produced a damage total of $50 million (1959 USD).
Tropical Depression Hope
Tropical Depression Hope existed in the South China Sea from August 17 to August 19.
In mid-August, a tropical disturbance developed within the Intertropical Convergence Zone over the Philippine Sea. By August 19, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) began monitoring this system as a tropical depression. Additionally, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) classified the system as a tropical storm. Initially, a strong ridge over Southeast Asia caused the storm to track slowly west-northwestward; however, the ridge gradually weakened over the following days. The cyclone gradually strengthened to typhoon status on August 21, by which time it had developed a 32 km (20 mi) wide eye. Upon becoming a typhoon, the JTWC named the system Iris. Later on August 21, Iris turned northwestward as the ridge weakened and brushed the northeastern tip of Luzon. On August 22, Iris attained its peak intensity as a Category 2 equivalent typhoon on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale with winds of 165 km/h (105 mph). Later that day, United States Air Force reconnaissance plane flew into the storm and recorded a barometric pressure of 966 mbar (hPa; 28.53 inHg), the lowest in relation to the storm. After passing roughly 75 km (45 mi) south of Taiwan, known as Formosa at the time, Iris started weakening. Late on August 22, Iris made landfall near Kao-Chi, China as a strong tropical storm. The storm then rapidly transitioned into an extratropical cyclone over China before dissipating late on August 23.
On August 21, Typhoon Iris brushed the northern coast of Luzon; however, there were no known reports of casualties or damage on land. Offshore, large swells produced by the storm were blamed on at least two shipwrecks. Following the incidents, the United States Seventh Fleet were sent to search for survivors. Near Palawan Island, at least 100 people drowned after a ferry sank; only 11 passengers were rescued. Five more people went missing near Quezon Province after their motorboat capsized. Heavy rains from the typhoon spread across Taiwan on August 22, triggering significant flash flooding. Along the Haifenglun River, a railroad bridge was washed away. Across the Pescadore Islands, approximately 1,000 people were left homeless. Across Fujian Province, torrential rains from the typhoon led to catastrophic flooding that killed at least 720 people, injured 618 and left 996 others missing; however, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the death toll may be as high as 2,334.
On August 25, Tropical Storm Joan formed in the open Western Pacific, and attained typhoon status early the next day. As Joan moved to the west-northwest, it continued to rapidly intensify, reaching Super Typhoon status on the 28th and peak winds of 195 mph (314 km/h) on the 29th. Such winds are dubious, due to the infancy of Reconnaissance Aircraft at the time and the lack of satellite images. Nevertheless, Joan was a powerful typhoon, and struck eastern Taiwan with estimated winds of 185 mph (298 km/h) on the 29th. It rapidly weakened while crossing the island and the Formosa Strait, and dissipated over China on the 31st. Strong winds and heavy flooding caused 11 casualties and $3 million in crop damage. Property damage was extensive as well, with 3,308 houses destroyed from the typhoon. In China, 3 people were killed and 57 were injured from Joan.
Tropical Storm Kate
Tropical Storm Kate existed just east of the Philippines from August 25 to August 27.
Just 5 days after Joan hit Taiwan, 135 mph (217 km/h) Typhoon Louise hit southeastern Taiwan, and quickly weakened as it moved northward. After weakening to a tropical depression over China, it restrengthened to a tropical storm before hitting North Korea and dissipating on September 7. Louise left 6 dead and over 6000 homeless.
Tropical Depression Marge
Tropical Depression Marge existed in the South China Sea from September 2 to September 3.
Tropical Storm Nora
Tropical Storm Nora existed from September 5 to September 12.
Tropical Storm Opal
Tropical Storm Opal existed from September 5 to September 6.
On September 6, reports from aircraft indicated the existence of a tropical storm near the international dateline. Earlier stages were missed because of a lack of data in the isolated area. A trough moved Patsy northeast. A second trough then developed, dominated over the first, and recurved Patsy northeast. It then slowly headed northwards and gradually weakened. It dissipated on September 10. Patsy's erratic path near the dateline was unusual and no known tropical cyclone had taken such a path over the previous ten years, although that of Typhoon June 1958 was somewhat similar.
The Japan Meteorological Agency's "best track" does not give windspeeds, only indicating that Patsy was a typhoon. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center's report disagrees on location but also has Patsy's maximum windspeed east of the dateline; the JMA's data does not indicate windspeeds. Patsy is an uncommon west-to-east crosser of the dateline. Including only systems recognized by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, that has only happened six times since.
Tropical Depression Ruth
Tropical Depression Ruth existed from September 8 to September 10.
Super Typhoon Sarah, which peaked at 190 mph (310 km/h) on September 15, weakened to a 115 mph (185 km/h) typhoon just before making landfall on southern South Korea on the 17th. It continued to the northeast, and dissipated on the 19th over northern Japan. In the Ryūkyū Islands, Sarah's high winds and rain caused 6 deaths and destroyed 6,000 houses, causing $2 million in crop damage. In all of Korea, extreme flooding and storm surge killed 669 people and left 782,126 homeless one day before Chuseok, which is one of the Korea's biggest holidays. Extreme crop damage and property damage amounted to $100 million (1959 USD) ($638 million 2005 USD). Flooding in Japan killed 24, with thousands of houses either destroyed or damaged.
Tropical Depression Thelma
Tropical Depression Thelma existed between Palau and Guam from September 18 to September 19.
Typhoon Vera was one of Japan's worst typhoons ever, causing the deaths of 5,159 people and producing a damage total of $261 million (1959 dollars). The JMA gave Vera a special name—Isewan Typhoon.
Typhoon Amy developed near Yap on October 3. After strengthening and subsequent weakening, Amy struck Japan. Shortly thereafter, the system became extratropical on October 9.
Tropical Storm Babs
Tropical Storm Babs developed in the South China Sea on October 5. The storm struck the western side of Luzon, before entering the Pacific Ocean. By October 10, Babs dissipated south of the Ryukyu Islands.
An area of low pressure organized into a tropical depression on October 9 to the east of the Philippines. It moved northwestward, quickly intensifying to typhoon status on the 10th. Charlotte continued to intensify, and reached a peak of 165 mph (266 km/h) on the 13th before recurving to the northeast. Cooler, drier air weakened the typhoon, and after passing near Okinawa on the 16th it paralleled the southern coast of Japan offshore. The weakening storm turned to the east, and dissipated on the 19th. Charlotte brought a total of 24 inches (610 mm) of rain on Okinawa, causing landslides that damaged much of the island. Crop damage was severe, with 75% of the rice crop destroyed. The five feet of flooding in some areas damaged 618 homes and destroyed 275. In all, Charlotte caused 46 casualties and left 1,068 homeless.
Just weeks after Super Typhoon Vera, another northward moving 170 mph (270 km/h) Super Typhoon was moving northward toward Japan. Dinah's turn to the northeast spared the country, and it became extratropical on October 21 to the east of the archipelago.
Typhoon Emma existed from November 5 to November 15.
A disturbance in the Intertropical Convergence Zone organized into a tropical storm to the east of the Philippines on November 13. Freda moved west-northwestward, attaining typhoon status the next day. As it paralleled the northeast coast of Luzon, it rapidly intensified to a 135 mph (217 km/h) typhoon, and made landfall on the 16th with slightly weaker winds of 120, the weakening due to land interaction. Freda rapidly weakened as it crossed the island, and turned to the north. After passing close to Taiwan on the 18th, it accelerated to the north and became extratropical on the 20th. Freda brought torrential rains to the city of Manila, driving two vessels aground. Crop damage was heavy on the southern part of the island, while 7,600 were left homeless from the flooding. Freda caused 58 fatalities as it passed through the Philippines.
On December 18, 170 mph (270 km/h) Super Typhoon Gilda made landfall on the eastern Philippines. It quickly crossed the archipelago, and weakened over the South China Sea. Gilda made landfall on southeastern Vietnam on the 21st as a tropical storm, and dissipated the next day. Gilda caused 23 casualties in the Philippines from extensive rainfall, and left nearly 60,000 homeless.
On December 30, just weeks after Gilda, 150 mph (233 km/h) Typhoon Harriet hit the eastern Philippines. It weakened as it crossed the islands, and dissipated over the South China Sea on January 2. Harriet brought strong winds and rainfall to Luzon, causing considerable property and crop damage. In all, the typhoon killed 5 and left more than 12,000 homeless.
1959 storm names
Two Central Pacific storms developed and were named Dot and Wanda. The policy at the time was to use the Western Pacific nomenclature for the basin.