11:55 AM | Typhoon Soudelor to reach "super" status


[Close-up colorized IR image of Typhoon Soudelor; courtesy MTSAT]


[Full disk IR image of Typhoon Soudelor; courtesy MTSAT, University of Wisconsin]


Sea surface temperatures in the western Pacific Ocean are running at warmer-than-normal levels and this combined with low wind shear is helping to fuel the intensification of Typhoon Soudelor - the strongest storm of 2015. Soudelor is likely to intensify rapidly over the next few days to rarely seen pressure levels and places like Taiwan and eastern China are keeping a close eye on it. The latest close-up colorized IR satellite image and full disk IR image (above) feature an impressive-looking eye with a well-balanced and symmetrical appearance to the overall storm. A computer forecast model called the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast System (HWRF) is designed by NOAA to be specifically used for hurricanes and its operational version forecasts a minimum pressure of 908 millibars in 72-hours (plot below) which is equivalent to an amazing 26.81 inches (other models shown in the plot are somewhat weaker). The very latest European computer forecast model plows the storm directly into Taiwan late this week with a central pressure of 919 millibars (27.14 inches). Even if Soudelor begins to weaken prior to possible landfall in Taiwan and eastern China, it is still expected to be a significant typhoon and preparations are already being made for the storm from Shanghai to Taipei. [Click here for a video of the "close-up" view: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/TROP/floaters/13W/imagery/rbtop_lalo-animated.gif]


[Operational HWRF forecasts a minimum pressure of 908 millibars for Typhoon Soudelor in 72 hours; courtesy NOAA]