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UPDATE: Powerful Super Typhoon Hagibis an equivalent-CAT5!

Super Typhoon Hagibis keeps strengthening, now at equivalent-CAT5 hurricane strength!

Latest analysis by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) in the 12h UTC update indicate Hagibis has reached 259 km/h (140 kt) peak sustained winds, an equivalent-CAT5 system! Peak wind gusts are now at 315 km/h!

Hagibis underwent explosive strengthening yesterday and earlier today, from a tropical storm to equivalent-CAT4 super typhoon – a 145 km/h increase in peak sustained winds – in only 18 hours!

13:40 UTC short wave IR image of Super Typhoon Hagibis just east of the Marianas Islands. Note the extremely tight, small eye! Image: Himawari-8 / Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

It is expected to further strengthen to 278 km/h peak sustained winds, per latest JTWC warning. The extremely tight eye will likely destabilize some time soon and undergo an eyewall replacement cycle. When it happens, the collapsing tight eye will be replaced by a larger eye and a (transient) drop in peak sustained wind speed.

Latest satellite and radar imagery indicates the tight, pinhole eye is only about ~6-10 km across!

The exceptionally small, tight eye is reminiscent of extreme hurricane Patricia in 2015 – the record holder for the strongest sustained winds for a tropical cyclone, at 345 km/h (215 mph). The extremely tight eye of Hagibis suggests peak sustained winds may be higher than currently estimated.

Super typhoon Hagibis tracked over the northern Marianas and is now moving towards southern Japan.

Cover image: Himawari-8 / Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

Stay tuned for further updates!