Super typhoon Hagibis in the Western Pacific Ocean rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 5 over the course of 24 hours from Sunday to Monday. The storm, which is currently centered 200 miles northeast of Guam, contains sustained windspeeds exceeding 160 miles per hour.
Rapid Intensification from Tropical Storm to Category 5
Hagibis’ rapid intensification from a tropical storm to a Category 5 is alarming for a number of reasons. Firstly, this means that the storm now poses a severe threat to several Northern Mariana Islands, including Alamagan, Pagan, Saipan, and Tinian. Secondly, it also represents one of the fastest storm intensifications ever recorded.
The Western Pacific is one of the most intense hotbeds of typhoon activity on the planet. Hagibis is now the nineteenth named storm of the year in the Western Pacific. Nearly double the number of typhoons form in the Western Pacific than those that form over the Atlantic during Hurricane Season.
Super Typhoon Hagibis Threatens Pacific Islands
The super typhoon is moving on a northwesterly path, threatening the Northern Mariana Islands as it curls towards the Japanese Archipelago. The Northern Mariana Islands are at the greatest risk of taking the brunt of a Category 5 typhoon on land.
As the storm moves across the island, storm surge flooding, flash floods from heavy rainfall and intense windspeeds could create deadly conditions rapidly. Residents of the islands are currently observing typhoon warnings, meaning 160-plus MPH winds are expected there in the next 36 hours.
Hagibis’ Projected Path Could Threaten Japan
Tropical Storm warnings are in place in Guam, the Agrihan Islands, and Rota. As the storm curves northwesterly, the speed and timing of that curve will be pivotal in predicting how the storm impacts Japan. The island nation is not likely to receive the full Category 5 force of the typhoon, however, as prevailing winds will likely shear some of the strength off of the storm.
As the storm approaches Japan, it will likely lose some strength in the form of smaller storm bands shearing away from it as well. Current projections have Hagibis making landfall on the island nation sometime between Thursday evening or Saturday evening. Residents are cautioned to keep an eye on weather reports for updates.