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A monster Super typhoon Hagibis continues across the western Pacific, heading towards Japan this weekend

After putting one of the most phenomenal displays of rapid intensification in tropical cyclone history yesterday (Note: Hagibis intensified from a tropical storm with 60 mph winds to a Category 5 super typhoon with 160 mph winds in the 24 hours ending at 8 am EDT Monday. A 100 mph increase in maximum sustained winds in just 24 hours is an extremely rare occurrence of rapid intensification), the Super Typhoon Hagibis continues moving WNW towards Japan. It maintains a powerful 135-140 knots winds – a Category 5 strength! The inner eyewall has, however, still not collapsed completely, but should soon be replaced by a larger, outer eyewall.

The final daytime light across Hagibis revealed a cloud-filled eye, as the eyewall replacement cycle (ERC) is still ongoing. Currently, the eye is surrounded by intense convective storms, gradually forming a larger outer band which will soon become the main eyewall surrounding the much larger eye. Overall, Hagibis remains a very large tropical system.

Advance Dvorak technique analysis confirms the expected fluctuations in intensity due to an ERC has resulted in some weakening, indicating the peak strength has probably been reached in the past 24 hours. Hagibis is now packing winds of around 135 knots (= 250 km/h) and estimated central pressure around 920 mbar, a high-end Category 4 strength.

Hagibis should maintain a strong Category 4 or even Category 5 strength for another day or two before it begins its weakening trends while moving towards Japan. It continues moving across the very favorable warm waters of the western Pacific – literally ideal conditions for maintaining its powerful strength. The wind shear affecting Hagibis should remain very low while sea surface temperatures will remain around 29°C with the environment becoming slightly drier. As usual, there will likely be fluctuations in typhoon’s strength due to additional eyewall replacement cycles while moving through the still high-end favorable environment. and in addition, Hagibis’s wind field will begin spreading the wind energy over a broader area with time.

The future track of Hagibis indicates that models are in rather good agreement it will be moving within the classic curvature out, arcing toward the northwest and then north towards Japan’s islands Honshu. The potential is increasing that landfall should occur near the capital Tokyo early Sunday, as a Category 2 or similar strength. Indeed, still several days before this happens, so its track might change.

Stay tuned for further updates in the coming days!