NOTE: For our Video Update released roughly an hour ago, please click HERE
Sanba (Bagyong Karen) continues to rapidly intensify as it moves across the Philippine Sea. It was last located approximately 620km east northeast of Virac, Catanduanes or about 1,200km south southeast of Okinawa. Maximum sustained winds are now at 215kph with gusts of up to 260kph making Sanba a Category 4 Typhoon on the Saffir Simpson Scale. The system is currently moving north northwestward at 15kph.
IR Image from NRLMRY
Latest satellite image clearly shows the well-defined eye of Sanba which has a diameter of about 30km. The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong convective activity. Dual-outflow channels remain excellent as well. However, we are noting some hints of dry air just north of Sanba that may affect its intensity in the next day or so. Right now, there is no sign yet that the dry air has entrained but the possibility of a slight and short-term weakening is on the table. If Sanba manages to weed out that dry air, intensification will likely continue for the next 2 days.
Current forecasts remain in very tight agreement among computer models and forecast agencies. We are still expecting Sanba to move very near Okinawa by Sunday morning. Again, ruling out the dry air, Sanba has a chance of becoming 2012's first Category 5 and also the second Super Typhoon! If our forecasts pan out. Sanba could move within 100km west of Okinawa at peak intensity putting the island at the right front quadrant and subjecting it to really violent winds by Sunday.
Forecast Track (NOT OFFICIAL!)
Sanba will then start accelerating as it moves across the East China Sea, weakening along the way. Despite the cooler waters, we still expecting the system to maintain its strong typhoon intensity through Monday. Our forecast track is taking Sanba towards the Korean Peninsula and latest forecasts from agencies are putting Sanba towards South Korea by as early as Monday morning. It will have weakened by that time but still a very strong Category 2 or even a Category 3 storm.
Residents along Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, Kyushu, and South Korea should continue closely monitoring the developments of Sanba. If you are in Okinawa, you have to make preparations now. If you live in Kyushu, Western Honshu, or South Korea, you may want to begin making some plans as we head into the weekend.
We'll have another update tomorrow, stay safe!
Issued (09 UTC) 5pm PhT 091312