Typhoon Megi has strengthened over the South China Sea to Category 4 intensity. Packing sustained winds to near 135 mph, Megi is currently heading due north at just under 10 mph. The latest track forecast is good news for Hong Kong, as the storm center is now projected to make landfall to its east and north. However, Hong Kong is on the fringe of the track forecast "cone of uncertainty" and is likely to be impacted by the storm's wind and rain.
The Hong Kong observatory writes in today's forecast:
Tropical cyclone Megi will edge closer to the south China coast gradually. Under the combined effect of the northeast monsoon and Megi, winds over the south China coast and the northern part of the South China Sea are expected to strengthen significantly with heavy rain and squalls in the next few days.
Already, evidence of Megi's outer rain bands can be seen on Hong Kong's radar.
Megi's impacts are likely to be felt over a large portion of the south China coast and Taiwan due to its large size. The storm is now much bigger than it was when it tore across the northern Philippines, as meteorologist Jeff Masters at Weather Underground explains:
Passage over Luzon Island destroyed Megi's eyewall and inner core region, and the storm compensated by expanding and intensifying the portions of its circulation that were over water. ... Megi has been able to maintain its larger size, and is now a much larger typhoon than when it hit the Philippines.
The massive size of Megi is likely to push a large storm surge to the south China coast, especially on the north and east side of the center. If there is good news for region, it's that Megi is likely to weaken some as it encounters hostile wind shear (changing of the wind with height) as it heads north. Nonetheless, its landfall intensity should still be around Category 2 or 3 levels.
The Associated Press writes that in Guangdong, the Chinese province where Megi is projected to make landfall "officials have ordered all fishing boats back to shore, put the provincial flood control headquarters on alert and warned that reservoirs should be watched." It states that In Hong Kong, the mood is calmer as that city's infrastructure has stood up well to past experiences with typhoons.
Reports from the northern Philippines indicate about $30 million worth of infrastructure and crops were damaged and nearly 5,000 houses were damaged or destroyed by Megi's winds. The death toll has risen to 20.
Weather Underground's Masters suggested it was remarkable that the total wasn't higher: "Previous major typhoons to strike the Philippines have nearly always killed hundreds, and sometime thousands, so the preparation and evacuation efforts for Megi likely saved hundreds of lives."
Nonetheless, the UK's Daily Telegraph reported 500,000 are homeless in the Philippines. It also noted that Noel Lopez, provincial administrator of Isabela province in the Philippines said Megi was "the worst typhoon to hit out province in nearly 20 years."
Watch an incredible satellite loop of Megi's journey across the western Pacific...