Wutip becomes first super typhoon in February since 1911

'Taiwan's Shield' expected to fend off Super Typhoon Wutip

NOAA animated GIF of Western Pacific.

NOAA animated GIF of Western Pacific.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Wutip is the first super typhoon recorded by the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) for the month of February since 1911, but forecasters believe "Taiwan's Shield" will hold up yet again and prevent it from impacting the country directly.

As of 2 a.m. this morning, Super Typhoon Wutip had a radius of 220 kilometers, and was located 2,350 kilometers east-southeast of Taiwan's southernmost tip of Eluanbi moving north-northwest at a speed of 8 kilometers per hour (kph). Wutip was packing maximum sustained winds of 183 kph and gusts of up of to 226 kph.

Over the weekend, Guam avoided the brunt of the storm as it veered to the southwest of the island, only coming within 165 miles at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Heavy rain and strong winds were reported on Guam that day, but other than a few downed signs and tree limbs, no structural damage was incurred, reported The Guam Daily Post.

CWB map of Wutip's projected path.

Yesterday (Feb. 24), the United States National Weather Service upgraded Wutip to a category 4 super typhoon as winds near the storm's center yesterday were estimated to have climbed to 249 kph. According to AccuWeather, Wutip yesterday surpassed Typhoon Higos from 2015 as being the strongest typhoon on record for the month of February in western Pacific Ocean, and it is the strongest typhoon for February on the books for Taiwan's CWB since 1911.

However, forecasts suggest it is unlikely to seriously impact Taiwan, thanks to the Western Pacific Subtropical High (WPSH), a subtropical belt of atmospheric pressure over the Northern Pacific Ocean. The WPSH has become dubbed "Taiwan's shield" because it has steered all typhoons either north or south of Taiwan during all of 2018, and so far this year.

Wutip is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility by mid Wednesday or Thursday, when it will be locally named "Betty," according to the Philippine Atmospheric and Astronomical Services (PAGASA). However, the weather bureau said that it "poses no direct threat to any part of the country."