Issued (03 UTC) 11am PhT 080415
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Over the past 24 hours, Soudelor has rapidly intensified and is now a Category 5 Super Typhoon. The eye of Soudelor was last located approximately 830km northwest of Guam. Maximum sustained winds are now at 285kph with gusts of up to 350kph. Super Typhoon Soudelor is currently moving west northwestward at 20kph.
IR Image from NRLMRY
Soudelor underwent an eyewall replacement cycle yesterday and has been able to take advantage of the highly conducive environment of the Western Pacific. As a result, Soudelor went on a rapid deepening overnight and has attained the upper-reaches of Category 5 Super Typhoon intensity. It is currently the strongest cyclone on Earth and the strongest cyclone so far of 2015. We have been seeing warming cloud tops, however, which may indicate that another eyewall replacement cycle may take place soon.
Forecast Track (NOT OFFICIAL!)
Our latest forecast track is a blend of the computer model outputs as well as the forecasts from the numerous agencies in the region. We are seeing a good consensus with the numerous forecasts and, thus, have good confidence in our track. With that said, Super Typhoon Soudelor will continue moving in a generally west-northwestward track over the next few days. It is forecast to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility by tomorrow morning (Wednesday) and will be given the local name 'Bagyong Hanna' by PAGASA.
While we are not expecting Soudelor to directly impact the Philippines, the system is still forecast to enhance the southwest monsoon which may bring scattered showers across the country later this week. However, the focus for the possible impacts will be the Southern Japanese Islands and Taiwan. Based on the latest forecasts, we expect Soudelor to impact the said areas beginning Friday morning. Depending on the possible eyewall replacement cycle, there is a good chance that Soudelor will maintain the Super Typhoon intensity (albeit at a slightly weaker Category 4 strength) as it approaches the region.
This is a potentially catastrophic cyclone that may impact the islands of Japan and Taiwan. If you live in the areas mentioned, please continue to monitor the developments of Soudelor. People living in storm-prone areas should start thinking about emergency preparations. As always, heed the warnings and advisories of your local officials!
We'll have another update later tonight.