Typhoon Jelawat Deepens Explosively East of Philippines

September 24, 2012, 2:53:48 AM EDT

Jelawat has ramped up from a tropical storm to a dangerous, extreme typhoon within a stunningly short span of time.

Within 24 hours, top winds about the Philippines Sea cyclone rose by 65 knots, from 55 knots to 120 knots, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) website said on Sunday.

The 120-knot top winds put Jelawat in the same class of of storm as a Category 4 hurricane, with further strengthening in the forecast.


The eye marks the spot of Typhoon Jelawat's center, located over the southern Philippines Sea. The nearest island of the eastern Philippines in this image is Samar. (Joint Typhoon Warning Center)

Marked by a bold, circular eye on satellite images, the center of Jelawat was about 530 miles east-southeast of Manila, Philippines, but within less than 250 miles east-northeast of the island of Samar. Movement of the dangerous storm was slow, mostly towards the northwest.

The JTWC and other governmental forecast agencies have expected further strengthening into Monday. Indeed, the JTWC were estimating highest sustained winds of at least 140 knots, those of a "super-typhoon," on Monday.

Storm movement has been forecast to be more towards the north than the west, a outcome that would certainly limit the storm's impact on the vulnerable Philippines.

Still, it is too early to say that northern Philippines will not feel serious effects from Jelawat near the middle of the week. Later, Jelawat could also approach Taiwan.

A more likely scenario would be for the worst of Jelawat to skirt the northeastern Philippines while, at the same time, triggering outbreaks of torrential rain over the archipelago.

It is common for tropical cyclones to trigger excessive rain and flooding in the Philippines, even without a direct approach to the island nation.

Meanwhile, Jelawat will be sharing the western North Pacific tropical basin with another tropical cyclone this week. The next one slated to take shape over the Philippines Sea well to the east and northeast.

Any tropical cyclone arising in this area would be of interest to Japan later in the week.

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