Typhoon Maysak has Philippines in its sights

An extremely powerful typhoon is heading towards the country, but will it weaken before making landfall?

    With a new eye wall in place, Maysak has the potential to re-intensify [AFP/ESA/NASA]
    With a new eye wall in place, Maysak has the potential to re-intensify [AFP/ESA/NASA]

    After causing at least five deaths and extensive damage across Micronesia, Typhoon Maysak is now heading towards the Philippines.

    This is the strongest storm this early in the year since 1971, and only the third Category 5 typhoon seen in the Northwest Pacific before April.

    Maysak showed signs of weakening on Wednesday as it underwent an eye wall replacement cycle.

    The eye wall of a typhoon is a ring of towering cumulonimbus clouds which produce the most severe weather conditions. Within the eye wall there is a region of light winds and broken cloud.

    In major systems, Category 3 and above, the outer rainbands often strengthen and form a ring of thunderstorms as an outer eye wall. These then move slowly inwards, choking the inner eye wall before replacing it completely.

    Now, with a new eye wall in place, Maysak has the potential to re-intensify, especially as it is sitting above an area of exceptionally warm sea surface temperatures, around 28C.

    When Maysak passed over the sparsely populated islands of Fais and Ulithi in the Yap State of Micronesia on Tuesday, it caused devastating damage.

    Maysak’s pressure was just 905mb, the lowest central pressure for any typhoon this early in the year. Briefly, Maysak attained wind speeds of 257kph, the equivalent of a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

    Fortunately for the inhabitants of Luzon, Maysak is expected to run into an area of high wind shear on Friday, where wind direction changes with height. This will disrupt the structure of Maysak and an area of dry air is also likely to be sucked into the circulation, weakening it further.

    Maysak is expected to pass some 130km to the north of Baguio City at 22:00 GMT on Saturday. It will be a "mere" Category 1 by then, with sustained winds of 150kph.

    Storm surges and sea surface waves of over 4 metres are expected along the coasts of Samar, Bicol and Aurora-Quezon.

    Fishermen have been advised not to venture out over the eastern seaboard of Bicol Region and Visayas.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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