Dangerous Typhoon Maria Churns Toward the Ryukyu Islands

Dangerous Typhoon Maria churned closer to the Ryukyu Islands on Sunday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Typhoon Maria was located at latitude 22.1°N and longitude 132.7°E which put it about 485 miles (780 km) southeast of Okinawa.  Maria was moving toward the west-northwest at 19 m.p.h. (31 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 155 m.p.h. (250 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 190 m.p.h. (305 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 922 mb.

Typhoon Maria has a large symmetrical circulation.  There is a circular eye with a diameter of 32 miles (52 km) at the center of Maria.  The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds are occurring in that ring of storms.  Multiple bands of showers and thunderstorms are revolving around the core of Typhoon Maria.  Storms around the core are generating well developed upper level divergence which is pumping away large amounts of mass from the typhoon.

Winds to typhoon force extend out about 70 miles (110 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 230 miles (370 km) from the center.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Typhoon Maria is 33.3.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 23.7 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 57.0.

Typhoon Maria will remain in an environment favorable for strong typhoons for another 24 to 36 hours.  Maria will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  It will move through an area where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Typhoon Maria will remain a large and dangerous typhoon for another day or two.

Typhoon Maria was moving south of a subtropical ridge over the Western North Pacific Ocean.  The ridge was steering Maria toward the west-northwest and a general motion toward the west-northwest is likely to continue for another day or two.  On its anticipated track Typhoon Maria will approach the southern Ryukyu Islands in about 24 hours.  Maria could be near northern Taiwan in about 36 hours and it could approach the coast of China in about 48 hours.

Typhoon Maria will bring strong winds, locally heavy rain and a significant storm surge.  Maria will be capable of causing major damage over a widespread area.