Powerful Typhoon Maria Spins East of Taiwan

Powerful Typhoon Maria spun east of Taiwan on Saturday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Typhoon Maria was located at latitude 19.4°N and longitude 138.3°E which put it about 950 miles (1530 km) east-southeast of Okinawa.  Maria was moving toward the northwest at 13 m.p.h. (10 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 925 mb.

Typhoon Maria appeared to complete an eyewall replacement cycle on Saturday.  The completion of the cycle resulted in a  larger circulation.   There was an eye which had a diameter of 24 miles (38 km).  The eye was surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Several bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of the circulation.  The rainbands northwest in the northwestern quadrant of Typhoon Maria were a little weaker than the bands in the other parts of the circulation.  Storms in the core of Maria were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the northeast of the typhoon.

Winds to typhoon force extended out about 70 miles (110 km/h) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 200 miles (320 km) from the center.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Maria was 37.9.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 24.5 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 62.4.

Typhoon Maria will move through an environment mostly favorable for powerful typhoons on Sunday.   Maria will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  It will move through an environment where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  There appears to be some sinking motion and drier air northwest of Maria and that may be the reason why the rainbands were weaker in that part of the typhoon.  The drier air could inhibit further strengthening.  Typhoon Maria is likely to remain strong for another 24 to 48 hours.

Typhoon Maria was moving around the southern portion of a subtropical ridge over the Western North Pacific.  The ridge was steering Maria toward the northwest.  The ridge is forecast to strengthen and it will steer Typhoon Maria more toward the west-northwest.  On its anticipated track Typhoon Maria could approach the southern Ryukyu Islands in about 48 hours.  Maria could be near the northern end of Taiwan in about 60 hours.