Tropical Depression 26W has intensified into Tropical Storm Bopha earlier this morning. The system was last located approximately 380km southwest of Pohnpei. Maximum sustained winds are now up to 65kph with gusts of up to 85kph. TS Bopha is moving westward at 5kph.
The National Weather Service in Guam continues to put out numerous Tropical Storm Warnings for islands and atolls in the region. Please visit the NWS Site by clicking HERE for the latest forecasts and warnings.
IR Image from NRLMRY
Convective activity in and around the low-level center continues to improve as conditions in the region remain conducive for development. Despite being near the equator, TS Bopha is showing signs of continued intensification as it moves slowly westward. As it moves westward, TS Bopha could move just south of Chuuk by tomorrow morning as a strong Tropical Storm. Continued intensification could result into the system achieving typhoon strength by as early as Friday or even by Thursday evening!
As for the forecast track, computer models are still showing large differences especially in the day 5-7 range. Much of the disparity stems from the differences in the handling of the storm's forward speed as well as its strength. Based on the recent trends, we think the GFS as well as the ECMWF have a better handling on this storm and thus, these are the models which we will be closely monitoring over the next few days. With that said, if intensification continues, TS Bopha has a better chance of recurving out to sea than hitting the Philippine Islands. However, the concern still lingers for Micronesian Islands such as Yap and Palau as they are still in the potential path of Bopha as we go into Friday and Saturday. Residents here should closely monitor the developments of this cyclone.
We'll have more in-depth update later this afternoon.
Issued (2230 UTC) 630am PhT 112712