Typhoon Saola (Bagyong Gener) has slightly strengthened overnight as it slowly moves near Taiwan. The storm was last located approximately 320km northeast of Basco, Batanes or about 350km southeast of Taipei, Taiwan. Maximum sustained winds are now up to 130kph with gusts of up to 155kph. Saola is currently moving north northwestward at 10kph.
As of 5am today, PAGASA has dropped Public Storm Warning Signal #3. Signal #2 is still up for Babuyan, Batanes, and Calayan Groups of Islands. Signal #1 for Cagayan and Apayao. These areas will continue having stormy weather but should slowly improve later tonight. Islands north of Luzon especially Batanes will still get winds of near typhoon strength along with storm surges and high waves. Continue monitoring the progress of the storm here.
Radar images out of Taiwan are starting to pick up Saola's eye. Outer rain bands also continue make their way towards Taiwan from the east. These lines of convection can bring light to moderate rains with pockets of heavy rains bringing amounts of near 100mm. Residents in Taiwan should continue closely watching the news for updates in their area. For the latest warnings, updates, and forecasts in Taiwan, as well as the latest radar images, please click HERE (CWB Website)
IR Image from NRLMRY
Typhoon Saola's eye remain rugged and recent analysis suggest that the eyewall is still not fully closed. Furthermore, much of the convection remains to the eastern side of the storm but is expected slowly wrap around the center. Another area we are watching is a burst of convection northwest of Luzon. This certain vorticity is associated with the broad circulation of Saola and partly enhanced by the topography of Taiwan. Based on the movement, this batch of convection could clip Northern Luzon in the next few hours bringing the possibility of heavy rains and strong winds. While not directly from Saola, residents especially in Ilocos Norte, Kalinga, Apayao, Cagayan, and Isabela should expect stormy conditions in the next 3 hours. Rainfall amounts of up to 100mm and winds of up to 80kph are possible.
Saola/Gener is forecast to continue improving its structure and could become a Category 2 tomorrow morning when it crosses Ishigakijima. It could also clip or at least move within 100km of the northeastern tip of Taiwan tomorrow. There remains a possibility of Saola undergoing rapid intensification and JTWC is still forecasting a peak intensity of around Category 3 strength. No significant change in the forecast track either as Saola is still currently forecast to make landfall Eastern China very early Friday morning.
We'll have another update later this afternoon.
Issued (23 UTC) 7am PhT 080112