After battering southeast Luzon with heavy rain and strong winds Tuesday morning, Typhoon Rammasun, meaning “thunder of god,” is moving west through the Philippines today, making its way toward the capital of Manila and its population of close to 12 million. The powerful typhoon is expected to weaken only modestly as it brings torrential rain and damaging winds to a nation that hasn’t seen a tropical cyclone since Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which left thousands dead.
Typhoon Rammasun is packing winds around 125 mph — a category 3 on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Scale. While the typhoon’s eye is not well-defined on satellite, a band of torrential thunderstorms surrounds its core. 7.13 inches of rain fell in the city of Legaspi on Tuesday. Rammasun was intensifying as it made landfall in Luzon, and only weakened slightly after that.
Rammasun’s strength will be limited as it passes between the islands of Luzon on its path toward Manila, but the Joint Typhoon Warning Center is still expecting the typhoon to be a threat. The center is forecasting sustained wind speeds of 110 mph with gusts up to 135 mph as the storm approaches Manila.
Mashable’s Andrew Freedman is particularly concerned about Manila’s flood risk from Rammasun. Manila is commonly at risk of flooding from strong storms and high tides, and possibly moreso as the oceans rise. “A typhoon striking the city at a particular angle could flood a large portion of the city,” Freedman writes, “especially as sea-level rise from global warming and sinking land elevations make storm surges even more damaging.”
After the Philippines, Rammasun is forecast to track northwest across the warm waters of the South China Sea. Between above-average sea surface temperature and decreasing wind shear, Rammasun is likely to undergo a period of strengthening as it approaches southeast China and northern Vietnam.
The JTWC is forecasting the typhoon to capitalize on the favorable conditions and intensify into a category 4 on the Saffir Simpson scale, with winds up to 140 mph and stronger gusts. The current forecast has Rammasun making landfall on Thursday evening near Hainan Island before continuing on to northern Vietnam. However, track forecasts this far out in the Western Pacific can tend to have considerable uncertainty associated with them. All areas within the cone of uncertainty should be on high alert for a dangerous typhoon.