Super Typhoon Vongfong has rapidly intensified over the past 24 hours, from the equivalent of a category two hurricane to a monster typhoon with 155 mph wind speeds, and an estimated central pressure of 908 millibars.
Based on satellite estimates of central pressure, Vongfong is now the most intense storm on Earth so far in 2014, and forecast models suggest it could rival the intensity of deadly Typhoon Haiyan of 2013 over the next 24 hours.
During the 24 hours between Monday and Tuesday mornings, Vongfong ballooned from wind speeds of 89 mph to 168 mph, based on satellite estimates. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center estimates that Typhoon Vongfong has maximum winds of 155 mph on Tuesday morning, though this is likely a conservative estimate.
Vongfong is now the sixth super typhoon of 2014, with winds speeds over 150 mph.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center points to a favorable environment for the cause of the rapid intensification, including low wind shear and excellent outflow, which helps to ventilate and strengthen the storm.
Forecast models are suggesting that the super typhoon could continue to intensify, tanking to 895 millibars — a typhoon intensity not seen since Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which killed over 6,000 people. A pressure that low would beat this year’s second most intense storm — Typhoon Genevieve — by 20 millibars.
Luckily, this monster storm is not expected to make landfall while it’s at such high intensity. Over the next 24 to 48 hours, Vongfong is forecast to make a sharp turn north toward Japan. By Saturday morning, the typhoon is forecast to weaken to the equivalent of a category three, and then a category two with wind speeds of 105 mph, as it approaches the southern islands of the Kagoshima Prefecture of Japan.
Beyond this, global forecast models are suggesting Vongfong will continue to turn northeast and potentially making landfall in the southern Japan mainland, which will undoubtedly bring torrential rain to a region already soaked from Typhoon Phanfone.