ET: Super Typhoon Vongfong is maintaining its extraordinary intensity, with 180 mile per hour estimated sustained winds and higher gusts. Forecasters say Vongfong is likely to remain a Category 5 storm through much of the day on Wednesday, perhaps even intensifying further, unless internal processes weaken it unexpectedly. ET: Super Typhoon Vongfong has intensified further, with maximum sustained winds of about 180 miles per hour and gusts higher than 200 miles per hour.
Super Typhoon Vongfong is now equivalent to a high-end Category 5 storm, and it is forecast to intensify further during the next six hours, until it has winds of about 195 miles per hour, according to the JTWC. By some measures it is equivalent to, if not slightly stronger than, Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the Philippines in 2013. Its perfectly symmetrical satellite appearance is the sort that weather geeks the world over use as their screensavers.
A one-two punch of typhoons, coming in a season that has battered Japan with several other intense storms, could result in severe, life-threatening flooding and mudslides, depending on Super Typhoon Vongfong’s ultimate track and intensity as it approaches on Sunday and Monday. Due to cooler ocean temperatures and stronger upper atmospheric winds, it is highly unlikely that Vongfong will still be this powerful when it strikes Japan.
Vongfong is also the most powerful storm on the planet this year, based on estimated minimum central air pressure (the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm). By that metric, it has approached the intensity of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which decimated parts of the Philippines in 2013.
If the storm does strike Japan, the biggest threat it will pose will come in the form of water. Parts of Japan received up to two feet of rain from Typhoon Phanfone over the weekend, and two other typhoons that have hit this year also dumped copious amounts of rainfall. Given that Japan is a mountainous country, there could be a high danger of mudslides along mountain slopes. Read more…