The Great Southern Route : 2010 - 2011
GSR | 119 keep the tropics in mind to some degree over the course of the year), cyclone frequency is not quite to the magnitude of the summer season, especially later in the summer when the tropics are even more active. If summertime travels are in your plans, further south, in the South China Sea would tend to be the better way to go. Even with the more active tropical season, cyclone formation, especially in the southern South China Sea is less common, and tropical systems are less of a threat to this region. Also, while we are in the Southwest Monsoon season during the summer, winds and seas associated with this phenomenon are typically not as strong as during the wintertime Northeast Monsoon. What if your plans do take you north of the South China Sea? Well, for the winter season, you'll want to time your travel in between the passage of cold fronts of course, and keep a very watchful eye on the weather. Look for breaks in the weather as high centers or ridge axes move in and winds and seas ease and abate respectively. As for summer travel, the late spring and early summer rainy season associated with the Bai-U front could make things somewhat concerning for those looking for more pleasant weather, though aside from that, one can find favorable weather windows under many circumstances. Of great importance for the mariner and vacationer this time of year is course the tropics. Careful observation of the weather situation at hand and proper guidance will allow for avoidance of these systems. Safe travels to all, wherever your plans take you! tracking westward toward and across the South China Sea. Otherwise, we find disorganized squalls, mainly confined to waters of the southern South China Sea, generally near and south of 05N, and will generally track toward the west. Squall clusters, while usually disorganized, can produce localized higher winds and seas, both within and near the squalls. GOING WITH THE FLOW: CURRENTS The direction and speed of the currents through Korea Strait does not fluctuate much through the year from southwesterly at approximately 0.5-0.7 knots. The typical current pattern in the Yellow Sea is a counterclockwise flow of a stronger northwesterly flow along eastern China, along the Shanghai vicinity and a weaker south to southwesterly flow along western South Korea. The flow does tend to vary and weaken to less than 0.5 knots in late spring and summer across the Yellow Sea. From November through March, currents can become stronger from the northwest to northeast averaging 0.6 to 0.9 knots. The dominant current near Japan is the Kuroshio Current. This strong current extends from eastern Taiwan, northward along the Ryukyu Islands, north-northeastward along the southern coast of Japan, north along central Japan near 37N, and then extends eastward out to approximately 165E. The warm waters of the Kuroshio Current sustain the coral reefs of Japan, the northernmost coral reefs in the world. This current is the second strongest in the world averaging 0.9 to 1.6 knots, as the strongest is the Gulf Stream in the Western Atlantic. Taiwan Strait lies between eastern China and western Taiwan. Current speed through this region averages 0.4-0.8 knots through the year. From October through February currents are mainly from the north-northeast and during the rest of the year are from the southwest. Luzon Strait lies to the south of Taiwan along approximately 21.5N. Currents in this area are strongly influenced by the nearby Kuroshio Current which gives this strait an average current from the south-southeast to south-southwest at 0.6-1.3 knots. Currents along the eastern Philippines during the winter average from east to northeasterly 0.4-0.7kts. During the rest of the year, currents become more from the south-southwest to south-southeast along the western coast and E'ly along the southern coast, south of Mindanao Island of similar speeds. In the South China Sea, current directions are more of a function of the prevailing winds over a particular time period. For instance, during the period from late autumn through early spring, when the Northeast Monsoon is common, current directions are generally from the north and northeast, current speeds generally running anywhere from 0.5-0.8 knots across much of the direction. Later in the spring and during the summer and through early autumn, current directions shift/ change, and are generally from the south and southwest, with current speeds similar to those during the remainder of the year. CONCLUDING REMARKS -- WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?: Well we have many weather factors to consider here...not surprising given the expansive area we are considering, but when is the best time of year to travel? Where are the best places to go and what must we try to avoid at all costs? This section will summarize the preceding information and hopefully shed a little more light on things. First off, to find (relatively speaking) more optimal weather conditions, one want to travel when the weather regimes are "in transition". Spring offers one such transition, and in many cases would tend to be one of the better if not the best times of year to travel. Cold fronts become weaker and less frequent farther north (north of the South China Sea), so the effects from such features (and the high pressure areas that follow them), are not as severe as, say, during winter, when the weather tends to be especially volatile on many occasions. Furthermore, as we look into the South China Sea, we are also in transition. The surges of higher N-NE winds that come with the Northeast Monsoon are more intermittent during the spring, and not nearly as strong as they are during the late fall and winter. Also, while we are considering the tropics (we always need to Figure 2: Typical winter weather patterns across the Western Pacific and Eastern Asia.
2008 - 2009
2013 - 2014