Typhoon Bopha is responsible for at least 500 deaths in the southern Philippines, and it may not be done inflicting damage on the storm-ravaged country. Some track forecasts show it reversing course, potentially affecting the northern Philippines in about two days.
Since Wednesday, the storm has dramatically intensified over the South China Sea, with peak winds increasing by 70 mph in the last 12 hours while the pressure dropped a stunning 35 mb. It is now the equivalent of Category 3 hurricane with peak winds of 125 mph which are predicted to strengthen to about 145 mph today (category 4 equivalent), which is super typhoon intensity.
Satellite imagery reveals a dangerous storm, with a well-defined pinhole eye surrounded by deep convection (a fancy word for intense thunderstorms).
Ominously, the storm may come very close to northwestern Philippines and the island of Luzon (the most populated) on its current track after drifting north-northeast for the next 36 hours. How close it gets to land is not known - it could move inland, just brush the coast or stay over the open water.
“Overall forecast confidence remains low,” says the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
The capital of Manila is within the cone of uncertainty in the forecast track. Fortunately, by the time storm would potentially make its second approach to the Philippines in 36 to 48 hours or so, a weakening trend is forecast to commence.
Irrespective of Bopha’s exact track, the devastated portions of the southern Philippines will not experience a second encounter with this storm and that’s a good thing as a challenging clean-up effort has just begun.
The Associated Press reports 400 people remain missing and 310,000 people have lost their homes on the southernmost island of Mindanao. Bopha was the strongest typhoon on record to hit that location.