Typhoon Kong-rey Quickly Strengthens Into Equivalent of Cat. 5 Hurricane

Typhoon Kong-rey quickly strengthened into the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale on Monday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Typhoon Kong-rey was located at latitude 17.9°N and longitude 137.3°E which put it about 690 miles (1110 km) southeast of Okinawa.  Kong-rey was moving toward the west-northwest at 11 m.p.h. (17 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 160 m.p.h. (260 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 195 m.p.h. (315 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 910 mb.

The circulation of Typhoon Kong-rey was very organized and symmetrical.  There was a circular eye at the center of Kong-rey.  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 Typhoon Kong-rey.  Storms near the core were generating strong upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the typhoon in all directions.

Kong-rey is a large typhoon.  Winds to typhoon force extend out about 75 miles (120 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 240 miles (390 km) from the center.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Typhoon Kong-rey is 35.0.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 26.8 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 61.8.  Typhoon Kong-rey is capable of causing widespread catastrophic damage.

Typhoon Kong-rey will remain in an environment very favorable for strong typhoons for another 24 to 36 hours.  Kong-rey will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  It will move through a region where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  If a rainband wraps around the existing eye and eyewall, then an eyewall replacement cycle could cause Typhoon Kong-rey to weaken.  An upper level trough near Taiwan will produce southwesterly winds which will cause the vertical wind shear to increase in a couple of days.  Kong-rey will weaken more steadily when the wind shear increases.

Typhoon Kong-rey will move around the western end of a subtropical high pressure system over the Western North Pacific Ocean.  The high will steer Kong-rey toward the northwest for several more days.  On its anticipated track Typhoon Kong-rey could approach the Rykyu Islands in 48 to 60 hours.  It will still be a typhoon at that time.  If Typhoon Kong-rey brings strong winds and heavy rain, it will hamper the recovery from Typhoon Trami which hit the Ryukyu Islands a few days ago.