According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, Typhoon Soudelor is “the strongest tropical cyclone anywhere on earth thus far in 2015 based upon estimated wind speed.” The storm is continuing on its path for a direct hit on Taiwan
AIR noted that “earlier this week, the system crossed Saipan, population 48,000, in the Northern Mariana Islands. At that time the eye of Soudelor was extremely small—estimated at just 4 miles wide—but the storm made a direct hit on Saipan and strong winds caused significant damage across the island.”
Dr. Kevin Hill, senior scientist at AIR Worldwide said: “Since leaving Saipan, Typhoon Soudelor has increased in size and intensity and has tracked generally to the west around the southern periphery of the subtropical ridge. As of 12 UTC on August 5, the center was located at 20.0° N, 132.6° E, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). Over the past 24 hours the system has weakened, its central pressure increasing from 900 hPa to 935 hPa, although Soudelor remains an intense and well-organized tropical cyclone.”
The JMA forecast anticipates “little change in intensity over the next 12 hours followed by some strengthening prior to landfall on the east coast of central Taiwan late Friday or early Saturday local time,” Air’s report explained. “The JMA forecast indicates a central pressure of 925 hPa and 10-minute maximum sustained winds of 95 knots (120 mph [193 km/h] 1-minute sustained) prior to landfall. On this track, Soudelor would make landfall south of Taipei, although impacts would be felt across much of Taiwan.
“Although not directly in Soudelor’s anticipated track, the northeast of the country, where the capital Taipei is located, is likely to be most affected because of the concentration of exposure there. Any deviation of the storm from its forecast track to the north will result in more serious impacts for Taipei, while deviation to the south would tend to lessen impacts there.”
According to AIR, “the eastern two-thirds of Taiwan is the least populated area of the island, consisting mostly of rugged mountain ranges and dense forests lining a rocky coastline. The island’s high mountains can lead to extreme rainfall totals when strong typhoons make landfall, so flooding is a concern in addition to wind damage. The steep coastal bathymetry on the east coast will serve to reduce the threat from storm surge, although low-lying portions of the coastline could still see flooding.”
Dr. Hill concluded: “After crossing Taiwan, Soudelor is forecast to make its final landfall in China, although interaction with the mountainous terrain of Taiwan will lead to considerable weakening prior to its arrival.”
Source: AIR Worldwide
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