It’s a monster storm out in the western Pacific Ocean. Super Typhoon Jelawat is packing winds this evening of 160 mph with gusts as high as 195 mph making it a category 5 typhoon just to the east of the Philippines. Jelawat has been feeding on very warm waters in the area that upwards of around 84 degrees. Also, the warm waters have a great depth, which only amplifies the ability for Jelawat to strengthen and remain strong. It helps too that wind shear is very weak in the area.
On Sunday, Super Typhoon Jelawat put on an incredible show by rapidly intensifying from a tropical storm with 65 mph winds to a category 4 typhoon with 140 mph winds in just 24 hours. Wow! The image above from NASA is from last night when Jelawat was still a category 4 storm. As of Monday evening, Jelawat is still only the second strongest typhoon on Earth this year in 2012. It’s just behind Super Typhoon Sanba that reached a peak intensity of sustained winds at 175 mph.
Where is this monster of a storm heading? Well right now confidence in the track is very low. The track above is from the Weather Underground showing a slow motion to the northwest towards Taiwan. Some forecast models actually have Jelawat making landfall there while like the forecast shows from Weather Underground…some models are having it curve to the north then northeast before striking the island. Hopefully, this forecast holds true and the storm missed Taiwan.