Typhoon Jelawat, still holding super-typhoon status as of Wednesday, is spinning northwestward off the northern Philippines.
While latest indications were that the powerful storm will only brush the Philippines and Taiwan, it was looking increasingly likely that Japan will feel its direct effects.
Super-typhoon Jelawat, left of center, was sharing the western Pacific Ocean with much weaker Tropical Storm Ewiniar, upper right, in this 1500 UTC infrared image taken Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. (Japan Meteorological Agency - JMA)
Satellite imagery on Wednesday was still showing a tightly wound storm, having a bold eye, drifting towards the north and west.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 1200 UTC Wednesday, pegged highest sustained winds at 130 knots, the baseline for a "super-typhoon", according to JTWC criteria. Scaled by Saffir-Simpson standards, Jelawat was a "strong", upper-rank Category-4 hurricane.
The center of Jelawat was located about 415 miles northeast of Manila, Philippines, or 550 miles southeast of Taipei, Taiwan.
Storm movement was towards the northwest at 5 knots.
Roughly speaking, there was a consensus among top forecasting agencies, such as the JTWC, and major numerical forecast models.
Jelawat was shown to skirt northeastern Philippines Thursday, veer northward east of Taiwan Friday, then aim for the southern Ryukyu Islands on a northeasterly tack as of Saturday.
The margin of error was such that Jelawat could track far enough westward to affect eastern Taiwan directly with torrential rain and high winds.
As for the Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa, a direct shot of typhoon wind and rain was looking possible, even likely, Saturday into Sunday.
Accelerating northeastward at the start of next week, Jelawat may well take a swat at the Japan mainland, albeit as a much weaker storm than the present monster. If so, it will spell torrential rain and potentially damaging wind.
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