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Super Typhoon Nuri on track to be strongest storm of 2014

Infrared satellite image of Super Typhoon Nuri on Monday. (NOAA/NASA and RAMMB/CIRA)

Super Typhoon Nuri, which formed in the western Pacific ocean on Thursday, exploded in intensity over the weekend, climbing from the equivalent of a category 1 hurricane to a category 5 in just 24 hours. The super typhoon is forecast to become the strongest storm of the year on Monday.

Nuri had maximum sustained winds of 180 mph on Monday morning, tying with Super Typhoon Vongfong as the strongest storm of 2014. Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center expect Nuri to intensify further to wind speeds of 185 mph on Monday afternoon, which would surpass Vongfong as the strongest storm of the year.

Even at this incredible intensity, Nuri will likely fall short of deadly Super Typhoon Haiyan’s 195 mph wind speeds. Hayain killed over 6,000 people when it roared ashore in the Philippines in 2013.

Fortunately, Super Typhoon Nuri is not expected to make landfall as it tracks north through the West Pacific, though it will likely bring rain to Japan as it heads northeast into the high latitudes.

On Sunday, the International Space Station passed over the monster typhoon, providing perspective on the storm’s massive eye and cloud extent.

Nuri is the sixth super typhoon of the 2014 season — a list that includes Neoguri, Rammasun, Halong, Phanfone, and Vongfong — while the average in a year is four. 2014’s total climbs to seven if Super Typhoon Genevieve, which formed in the East Pacific and then tracked into the West Pacific, is counted.

After peaking in intensity on Monday, Super Typhoon Nuri is forecast to weaken as it tracks north through the Pacific, east of Japan. But its impacts won’t stop there. After ceasing to be a typhoon, the remnant storm will pull north into the high latitudes, potentially plummeting to a record-setting low pressure.

The Sunday night run of the European model shows the remnants of Nuri deepening to 920 mb in the Bering Sea, west of Alaska. The U.S. GFS model forecast on Monday morning suggests the storm could deepen even further, to an incredible 914 mb.

This pressure forecast rivals the deepest extra-tropical storm on record: the Braer Storm of 1993, which deepened to a low of 913 mb in the North Sea. The storm takes its name from the Braer oil tanker which was swept into Scotland’s Shetland Islands during the storm.

Should this forecast come to fruition, it would create a domino effect of weather through North America, building a strong ridge in the western U.S., which would drive cold, Arctic air southward into the eastern U.S. in just over two weeks.