Typhoon Mangkhut could be strongest of year, Taiwan within 'margin of error'

Meteorology expert Peng Chi-ming says Typhoon Mangkhut could be the strongest of the year

ECMWF map showing intense buildup of precipitation along Mangkhut's route.

ECMWF map showing intense buildup of precipitation along Mangkhut's route.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- After Typhoon Mangkhut lashed Guam yesterday, it now appears on a path bound for the waters south of Taiwan, could soon develop into the strongest typhoon of the year and Taiwan is within the "margin of error," according to WeatherRisk Explore Inc. President Peng Chi-ming (彭啟明).

On his Facebook page, Peng this morning said that center of Typhoon Mangkhut was located 2,400 kilometers southeast of Eluanbi and was moving westward at a speed of 23 kilometers per hour. Mangkhut's radius has grown to 220 kilometers and is currently packing maximum winds of 162 kilometers per hour, with gusts of 198 kilometers per hour.

Peng said that either today or tomorrow, Mangkhut will be upgraded to a "strong typhoon," when its maximum sustained winds are expected to reach 223 to 244 kilometers per hour and its radius should swell to 300 kilometers. Indeed, the Central Weather Bureau upgraded Mangkhut to a strong typhoon, while the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) and the weather bureaus in Hong Kong, Macao and China have upgraded it to a "super typhoon."

Peng predicts that peak intensity of the storm will be between Thursday and Saturday. Peng added the he believes the chances of Mangkhut becoming the strongest typhoon in the Western Pacific this year are quite high.

Aggregate of multiple typhoon forecast models. (Image from Peng Chi-ming Facebook page)

Peng believes Mangkhut will come closest to Taiwan on Saturday and the differences in the models of various counties have narrowed significantly since Monday. However, Peng said there is still room for adjustments as the forecast is based on the position of a high pressure system.

The typhoon is currently on a track to tilt slightly south in the Bashi Channel, which separates the Philippines and Taiwan. Nevertheless, Peng emphasized that the strength and position of the high pressure system could change in the coming days, thus altering Mangkhut's course, either north or south.

Predicted path of Typhoon Mangkhut by ATCF.

Peng highlighted Thursday and Friday as the critical juncture when the high pressure system could either cause the typhoon to go due west or tilt northwest, the latter of which would result in a greater impact on Taiwan. Currently, a direct hit on Taiwan is still within the "margin of error” for the models, said Peng.

According to the latest model by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the center of Mangkhut could be situated 300 kilometers to the south of Taiwan by Saturday morning. Considering the possible range for variability, southern Taiwan could be on the edge of the storm's periphery.

CWB's prediction of Mangkhut's likely path through Sunday.

Starting on Wednesday, Peng reminded the public to follow weather reports on the status of the typhoon, especially coastal areas of eastern Taiwan. Large waves are likely to be churned up by the typhoon and Peng reminds people to check wave forecasts before heading to the beach to try to avoid repeating the tragic drownings seen in Yilan now attributed to rogue waves generated by Typhoon Jebi.

Peng predicted that rain will begin to increase in intensity in eastern Taiwan as the typhoon nears on Friday. Peng said the rains will probably peak on Saturday, however it depends on the distance of the typhoon from Taiwan; the further away it is, the less impact there will be.

Japan Meteorological Agency model of Mangkhut's predicted path.

By Sunday, the rains should start to subside as the typhoon reaches southwestern Taiwan, before continuing on to the Pearl River Delta, where Hong Kong and Macao could bear the brunt of the powerful storm.

NCDR map showing various models of Mangkhut's predicted path.

Satellite image from JTWC showing Typhoon Mangkhut southeast of Taiwan.

Satellite view of Typhoon Mangkhut from JTWC.

NOAA satellite image of Typhoon Mangkhut.