Issued Thursday 9AM September 13th 2018. While all eyes are firmly watching Florence, Super Typhoon Mangkhut has entered a league of its own, becoming the strongest, most powerful and mesmerising tropical storm of 2018 as it heads for the Philippines and Southern China! Above image via RAMMB / CIRA.

 

The Western Pacific is notorious for producing mammoth typhoons and it looks like Super Typhoon Mangkhut will go down in history as one of those systems. Mangkhut is currently situated (at the time of this post) East of the Philippines with its outer bands about 18-24hrs away from impacting the Eastern Coastal regions of the Philippines. Mangkhut has been in a VERY favourable environment for VERY long time.. ever since it ran over Guam as a low end Typhoon in fact. The incredibly warm sea surface temperatures of 30Âșc+, minimal vertical wind shear and an anticyclone overhead have allowed the system to ventilate perfectly and intensify into a beast with 155kt sustained winds (285km/h) and wind gusts to 190kts (350km/h). To put that into perspective, thats about 20% stronger than Yasi and a similar strength to Cyclone Winston which devastated Fiji and was rated #1 for the Southern Hemisphere all-time. 

JTWC Official Forecast Track as of Thursday morning AEST

 

 

Mangkhut is forecast by ALL global models to veer in a North Westerly direction in the next 18-30 hours and is LIKELY to make a landfall over the Northern tip of the Philippines. The current projected track places the system directly over the city of Tuguegarao which was nearly 100% damaged by Typhoon Lawin back in 2016. The catastrophically destructive winds are expected to be the main threat and its almost certain that if forecasts prevail and winds of 330km/h+ impact land areas, then ALL trees, ALL powerlines and the majority of building structures will be damaged or destroyed. This will cut roads and limit assistance greatly. Torrential rainfall is also likely and this could lead to landslides, mudslides and extensive flooding across the region which may isolated damaged communities for days. A powerful storm surge is also likely across the Northern Philippines and Luzon Strait Islands which may lead to significant beach erosion, significant beach flooding including complete building inundation. 

Forecast 5 day rainfall via Windy showing 300mm+ in white, 200mm+ in pink

 

 

After the Philippines are impacted, the system is expected to maintain powerful characteristics (probably not quite Super Typhoon strength though) as it enters the South China Sea. Models are in general agreement for now, that the system is expected to either directly hit Hong Kong or make a landfall between Hong Kong and the Island of Hainan, with winds in excess of 165km/h and further torrential rainfall likely.

Forecast positioning for Mangkhut on Sunday night (AEST) via Windy, showing the system between the Island of Hainan and the City of Hong Kong