Super Typhoon Jelawat, packing maximum sustained winds of around 150 mph and gusts of 185 mph, is churning across the Philippine Sea.
Jelawat became a dangerous storm over the weekend with a perfectly symmetrical circulation and clear, well-defined eye. The storm underwent explosive intensification, almost doubling strength over the course of 12 hours.
The typhoon remains over very favorable ocean temperatures and is in an area of little to no wind shear. These conditions should slowly become less favorable over the next few days allowing the storm to gradually lose strength.
Jelawat is the second-straight super typhoon of 2012, following Sanba, which slammed South Korea with flooding rainfall.
The Japan Meteorological Agency is forecasting Jelawat to begin to slowly weaken as the storm heads north and west.
Despite being hundreds of miles away from the Philippines, the system has already locally heavy thunderstorms to the eastern half of the islands.
Locally heavy rainfall will continue for the Philippines through late week. Enough rain will fall in a few areas for flash flooding and mudslides, particularly in the higher terrain.
It will veer northward and northeastward by later this week, pulling away from the Philippines.
"A path like the one that is now forecast for Typhoon Jelawat would spare Taiwan any serious wind and widespread flooding rain impact," AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews said. "If it takes a more westerly path, there could be more significant problems."
During the weekend, there is a very good chance that a weakened Typhoon Jelawat could directly hit Okinawa and other Ryukyu Islands of Japan. Damaging winds, flooding rain and battering surf may all be major impacts.
The typhoon may then weaken to a tropical storm and move on to the Japan mainland early next week.
Stay tuned to AccuWeather.com for the latest information on potential track and impact. For expert discussion and the latest satellite imagery, visit AccuWeather's West Pacific Tropical Center.
Content contributed by AccuWeather Meteorologist Meghan Evans.
As a large storm rolls out of the Midwest, the Northeast and mid-Atlantic are facing snow, ice and travel disruptions to start March.
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