TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Tropical storm Mangkhut (山竹) could turn into the strongest typhoon yet to threaten Taiwan this year, meteorologists warned Saturday.
Mangkhut, the Thai name for the mangosteen fruit, was only declared as the 22nd tropical storm of the season on Friday evening, but already, experts expect it to gain strength and turn into a strong typhoon before it hits the United States territory of Guam next Tuesday.
While present maps still show it far east of Taiwan on September 13, U.S. forecasters estimated it might hit Taiwan around next weekend, September 15 and 16, the Apple Daily reported.
Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau noted that conditions were ripe for Mangkhut to turn into a supertyphoon, but the eventual presence of high pressure areas on its path might still throw it off course.
On Saturday, the eye of the storm was located more than 4,000 kilometers east of Taiwan’s southern tip, and moving west-northwest at a speed of 29 km per hour.
Weather expert Daniel Wu (吳德榮) described Mangkhut as potentially the largest and strongest typhoon to threaten Taiwan this year. While it was still a tropical storm this weekend, it would continue to gain strength over the following week right up until it approached Taiwan, the forecaster said.
Over the past week, Typhoon Jebi caused havoc in Japan, forcing the closure of one of the country’s busiest airports, Kansai near Osaka.