NOTE: For the latest Video Update (issued about an hour and a half ago), please click HERE. Scroll down below for the latest in-depth Text Update along with our own Forecast Track.
Bopha has intensified into a high-end Category 4 Super Typhoon as it nears the islands of Palau. The system was last located approximately 150km southeast of Palau or about 460km southwest of Yap. Maximum sustained winds are now up to 250kph with gusts of up to 305kph. Bopha is moving westward at 30kph although it has taken a slight jog to the west northwest in the past two hours.
Dangerous conditions are beginning to occur in Palau. The airport last recorded winds of up to 80kph along with light to moderate rains. Curfew is now in effect across the Republic so we urge everyone in here (if you can still read this) to please hunker down now and just try to ride this storm out if you're not in one of the designated shelters. Always listen to the radio or TV for the latest news and warnings from your local officials!
IR image from NRLMRY
Latest satellite image shows Bopha taking a really menacing look with a very small eye surrounded by a thick ring of very strong convective activity. The central dense overcast of the storm is now nearing the islands of Palau so we expect conditions there to rapidly deteriorate over the next few hours. Along with the strong winds, very heavy rains will also lash Palau throughout tonight. Worst conditions are forecast to occur by around 10pm local thru midnight and will last into the early hours of Monday morning. Keep in mind that Koror is on the southern end of the island chain and so the city will likely see some very strong winds later this evening. The silver lining is that the core of Bopha should stay offshore so we won't see the strongest winds (around 280kph) from this system. Nevertheless, Koror and other areas, will still see typhoon-force winds of up to 160kph.
Even though Super Typhoon Bopha is still outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility, PAGASA has already issued advisories and has begun calling this system "Bagyong Pablo" which is a sign that the Philippine Government is really trying to stay on top of this system.
Forecast Track (NOT OFFICIAL!)
Super Typhoon Bopha (Bagyong Pablo) has accelerate to 30kph which means that the landfall in Mindanao may be earlier than expected. As of right now, we think landfall will occur in Surigao by Tuesday morning as a strong Category 4 Typhoon! Bopha will weaken significantly after landfall but will still remain as a strong typhoon as it plows into the Visayas Islands by Tuesday and Wednesday. We're looking at the islands of Dinagat, Bohol, Cebu, Negros, and Panay to be severely impacted if the system does not change its current direction. Other parts of Mindanao including Davao are also likely to see some strong winds along with heavy rains. Rainfall amounts of up to 300mm are possible in Central Philippines, especially near the mountainous areas. By Thursday, we expect Bopha to start turning more to the northwest and could then impact parts of Palawan and Mindoro
Landfall for the Philippines is now less than 3 days. We urge everyone in the areas along Northern Mindanao, Dinagat, and the islands in Visayas to prepare now! Always coordinate with the local officials for any possible evacuations and other instructions for your area. Stay safe!
We'll have another update tomorrow morning.
Issued (10 UTC) 6pm PhT 120212