Formula One Weather Forecast: Japanese Grand Prix 2010
Suzuka, 8 - 10 October 2010 (Round 16)
(This forecast will be regularly updated. This entry: Saturday 9 October, 21:05hrs BST)
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- BBC Sport: Formula One
- BBC Weather: Suzuka Forecast
- Rainfall Radar (via Japan Meteorological Agency)
- Precipitation Forecast / 6-hr Rainfall Prediction Modelling (via Japanese Meteorological Agency)
- Infrared & Visible Satellite Loop (via Japan Meteorological Agency)
Nowcast / Forecast Updates:
Saturday, 2100BST: As per model expectations (and they've been excellent this weekend), the rain has now left the circuit by 0500 Local and I'm expecting a dry or largely dry scenario to now prevail for the rest of Sunday. Good news for qualifying, then! One or two light showers are still possible, but it's a low % point probability and the real hazard for drivers is straying off the asphalt and into very sodden run-off / gravel trap areas. So, quali could still be a tricky affair! One wheel off the kerbs could spell disaster.
Saturday, 1150BST: So, the 'worst case scenario' alluded to in my forecast below - i.e., a potential for undriveable conditions during qualifying - unfortunately became reality. We'll see a slow and rather erratic improvement in conditions for the rest of this evening and tonight in Suzuka, but JMA weather advisories and warning currently remain in force, not least to cater for further heavy pulses of rain easing northwards along ripple or wave-like perturbations on the frontal zone. Areas of flooding, with landslip risk, are a real possibility in some parts of Mie Prefecture. The postponed qualifying on Sunday (10am local; 0200BST) will take place after the rain departs; current modelled estimates take it's back edge of away northwards from Mie by around 04-0600 local. The circuit will thus still be pretty tricky for qualifying - especially the sodden margins & run-offs - but steadily drying. We'll then see hints of the cloud deck breaking with some brighter spells developing progressively towards midday. During the qualifying window, there's still a (small-ish) chance of a few light showers - these are catered for as a 30% chance of PPN by JMA's forecasters (and with good inter-model support). The race, meanwhile, remains as previously forecast: dry, with brighter or sunny spells; much warmer and with a low (10%) prospect of any further showers.
(PPN = Precipitation)
Emphasis: Unsettled conditions developing PM & overnight Friday, bringing spells of heavy rain Saturday, especially PM, continuing into Sunday AM. Inclement weather will have cleared well ahead of race start.
Friday: Sunny spells; mostly dry but with a chance of a few showers later PM as cloud increases. Rain arriving through the late afternoon and overnight, heavy at times. Chance of PPN 30%. Max 24C. Wind light, SSE.
Saturday: Overcast and breezy, with outbreaks of rain throughout the day, turning heavy at times and especially during the afternoon and evening. Up to 50mm accumulation plausible. Continuing wet & rather windy overnight. Chance of PPN 90%. Max 21C. Wind freshening / brisk SE.
Sunday: Further outbreaks of rain through a cloudy morning, easing by mid-morning. Dry and probably brighter by race start; i.e., a damp circuit then steadily drying(?). A few light showers still possible during early afternoon. Chance of PPN 80% AM; 20% PM. Max 25C. Wind moderating, predominantly NW.
Synopsis & Forecast Evolution:
There's now broad inter-model consensus for a tropical low / wave-like depression to form off Taiwan during Thursday and move NNE towards Japan. The centre eventually tracks just offshore east of Honshu throughout the weekend and deepens, with an arm of the jetstream directly aloft - offering significant potency and fluidity in the eventual degree / extent of bad weather across Suzuka, especially throughout Saturday.
Currently, the most pessimistic solutions from major operational centres (e.g., Canadian CMC; UKMO, NOGAPS and to an extent, GFS) offer a very wetr propect for Qualifying. This is likely to prove the major point of weather-related interest / uncertainty in an already critical race weekend for the five championship protagonists.
Whilst Friday has a pretty decent chance of dry running for P1 and P2, the onset of inclement conditions appear later into the evening and become dominant during Saturday. With FP3 and qualifying in mind, this will be real concern for the teams.
As the low tracks north, it is likely to become very developmental across Okinawa during Saturday and with various wavelike / ripple perturbations running ahead (possibly forming a secondary low centre) into southern areas of Japan, offering a real potential for heavy showers, including across Mie Prefecture (and Suzuka, located therein).
All the models agree on some grim weather throughout Saturday and especially later in the day. As soil moisture deficit continues to shrink from later Friday onwards, substantial run-off and standing water could become a real issue around the circuit by Saturday. Timing will be critical as the model continuity improves: i.e., will conditions possibly worsen ahead of qualifying, or after? It's more likely to be after... but impossible to call reliably until we see reality unfolding on radar. With 50+mm rainfall accumulation not out of the bounds of probability, there's obviously a possibility of undriveable (red-flagged) weather but this can be considered a fairly low risk. The worse conditions presently look set for the late afternoon and evening.
Either way, the low centre continues to look very threatening by 00GMT (0900hrs local) on Sunday morning but thankfully, it's impact on the actual race should then be steadily reducing.
In broadscale terms, the low centre is likely to be located just offshore from Mie Prefecture during the early morning and tracking NNE, if the currently fairly good inter-model agreement can be trusted.
The precipitation (and trailing cold front sitting off to the south) then ease off to the north quite quickly during Sunday morning, so the race itself will be dry or largely so. However, the earlier rain will have kept the circuit very sodden during the morning and I'd imagine the margins / run-off areas / section beneath 130R crossover will remain treacherous!.
One possible complication towards the early afternoon is any degree of wrap-around occlusion debris swinging back from the north towards Mie, bringing a few light showers, especially with any sunny spells adding to daytime heating and instability. With this in mind, I've retained a 20% point probability of afternoon precipitation and I note the Japanese Meteorological Agency do likewise. However, it's very likely for this critical race to run entirely dry, without further weather interruption. Exactly what grid line-up we'll have by the end of Saturday might well have provided more than enough weather drama, anyway!