Tropical Storm Meranti Forms West of Guam

A center of circulation developed within an area of thunderstorms west of Guam on Saturday and the system was designated as Tropical Storm Meranti.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Storm Meranti was located at latitude 16.0°N and longitude 135.8°E which put it about 1070 miles (1725 km) east-southeast of Taiwan.  Meranti was moving toward the west at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 991 mb.

The circulation of Tropical Storm Meranti is still organizing and the distribution of thunderstorms is asymmetrical.  Most of the thunderstorms are occurring east of the center of circulation.  There is a cluster of the thunderstorms just to the east of the center.  There are also two well formed rainbands east of the core of Tropical Storm Meranti.  Additional spiral bands are located in all parts of the tropical storm.  The thunderstorms near the center are generating upper level divergence which is pumping out mass in all directions.

Tropical Storm Meranti is moving through an environment which is favorable for further intensification.  It is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 31°C.  An upper level ridge located to the northwest of Meranti is producing northeasterly winds which are blowing across the western portion of the tropical storm.  The upper level winds are weaker over the eastern half of the circulation and the vertical wind shear is only slowing the intensification.  Although there may be some drier air in the western half of the circulation, Tropical Storm Meranti could intensify into a typhoon on Sunday.  Meranti could become a strong typhoon in two or three days.

A subtropical ridge north of Tropical Storm Meranti is steering it toward the west.  The subtropical ridge is forecast to steer Meranti in a general west-northwesterly direction during the next two or three days.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Meranti is expected to approach the area of northern Luzon, Taiwan and the southern Ryukyu Islands in about three days.  It could be a strong typhoon at that time.