Dangerous Typhoon Mangkhut Approaches Northern Luzon

Dangerous Typhoon Mangkhut approached northern Luzon on Thursday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Typhoon Mangkhut was located at latitude 16.2°N and longitude 126.2°E which put it about 400 miles (645 km) east-northeast of Manila.  Mangkhut was moving toward the northwest at 14 m.p.h.  The maximum sustained wind speed was 170 m.p.h. (280 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 205 m.p.h. (335 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 905 mb.

Typhoon Mangkhut has a large powerful circulation.  There is a circular eye with a diameter of about 30 miles (50 km) at the center of circulation.  A number of bands of showers and thunderstorms are revolving around the core of the circulation.  Storms around the core were generating strong upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the typhoon in all directions.

Winds to typhoon force extended out about 100 miles (160 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 265 miles (425 km) from the center.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Typhoon Mangkhut was 38.5.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 33.7 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 72.2.  Those indices indicate that Typhoon Mangkhut is very similar in size and strength to what Hurricane Katrina was when Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico in 2005.

Typhoon Mangkhut will move through an environment that is very favorable for strong typhoons during the next 12 to 18 hours.  Mangkhut will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  It will move through an area where there will be little vertical wind shear.  It is difficult for a typhoon or hurricane to continue to generate enough upper level divergence to stay extremely strong for a long period of time.  However, Typhoon Mangkhut could remain the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale until it reaches northern Luzon.  Mangkhut will weaken when the center moves over northern Luzon.

Typhoon Mangkhut is moving south of a subtropical ridge over the Western North Pacific Ocean.  The ridge is steering Mangkhut toward the northwest and that general motion is forecast to continue.  On its anticipated track Typhoon Mangkhut will reach northern Luzon east of Tuguegarao in about 18 hours.  Mangkhut is capable of causing extensive catastrophic damage.  It will produce extremely strong winds over northern Luzon.  There will be a significant storm surge at the coast.  Locally heavy rain will cause flash floods.