Typhoon Jelawat Rapidly Intensifies Into Equivalent of Major Hurricane

Typhoon Jelawat intensified rapidly on Friday into the equivalent of a major hurricane.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Friday the center of Typhoon Jelawat was located at latitude 17.1°N and longitude 139.5°E which put it about 440 miles (710 km) northwest of Guam.  Jelawat was moving toward the east-northeast at 13 m.p.h. (21 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 185 m.p.h. (295 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 926 mb.

Typhoon Jelawat intensified rapidly on Friday.  There was a small circular eye at the center of circulation.  A ring of very strong storms surrounded the eye and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Several spiral bands were revolving around the core of the circulation.  Storms near the core were generating well developed upper level divergence which was pumping large quantities of mass away to the east of the typhoon.  The removal of mass allowed the surface pressure to decrease rapidly and that produced a a rapid increase in wind speed.

Winds to typhoon force extend out about 45 miles (75 km) from the center of Typhoon Jelawat.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 175 miles (280 km) from the center of circulation.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Typhoon Jelawat is 31.6.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 17.7 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 49.3.

Typhoon Jelawat is in an environment favorable for strong typhoons, but it may be near its peak in intensity.  Jelawat will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  Typhoon Jelwat has moved around the western end of an upper level ridge which is producing easterly winds that are blowing toward the top of the circulation.  The winds are causing some vertical wind shear, but the shear has not inhibited intensification.  When Typhoon Jelawat moves farther to the northeast it will move under stronger easterly and the wind shear will increase.  More shear will cause Jelawat to weaken during the next few days.

A subtropical ridge to the east of Typhoon Jelawat is steering the typhoon toward the east-northeast.  A general motion toward the east-northeast is expected to continue for several more days.  On its anticipated track Typhoon Jelawat could approach the northernmost islands in the Marianas in about 48 hours.