A storm with potentially high impacts on freight movement is growing to monster proportions in the western Pacific Ocean. Hagibis, now a Super Typhoon, could become the strongest tropical cyclone on the planet for 2019. So far, this title is held by Hurricane Dorian whose sustained winds reached 185 mph, along with a central pressure that dropped to 910 millibars.
Hagibis rapidly intensified to typhoon strength over the weekend, reaching Super Typhoon status today, October 7, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph as of 8:00 a.m. EDT. This is equivalent to Category 5 hurricane strength, like Hurricane Michael, which destroyed Mexico Beach, Florida and some surrounding areas in October 2018.
Forecasters expect the monster storm to pick up even more steam, likely making it the strongest storm of the year and possibly rivaling one of the most extreme typhoons on record based on its rate of intensification.
This is the “most intensification by a tropical cyclone in the western North Pacific in 18 hours since Yates in 1996,” tweeted Colorado State University Meteorologist Philip Klotzbach.
“The wind speed increased by 100 mph in only 24 hours, which is nearly three times what is needed to be considered rapid intensification,” CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said earlier today.
Super Typhoon Hagibis is lashing the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands with severe winds and heavy rain, where it now the wee hours of Tuesday, October 8. According to the National Weather Service (NWS) Guam Weather Forecast Office, Hagibis was centered about 95 miles northeast of Saipan, or 220 miles northeast of Guam at 11:00 p.m. local time today (9:00 a.m. EDT). Super Typhoon Hagibis was moving to the west-northwest at 15 mph. At this pace, Hagibis should no longer be a threat to this region after Tuesday afternoon. The public is advised to stay indoors throughout the duration of the storm.
A Typhoon Warning is in effect for the islands of Sapian, Tinian, Alamagan and Pagan. The latest forecast shows destructive winds of 74 mph or more through Tuesday morning. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the islands of Guam, Rota and Agrihan. Damaging winds of 39 to 73 mph are predicted to last through Tuesday morning for these areas.
Heavy rainfall may cause flash flooding, and a Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Guam through Tuesday afternoon. Frequent locally heavy downpours may cause streams to overflow their banks and low-lying areas to flood quickly. There is potential for three to five inches of total rainfall across Guam with locally heavier amounts. There is the potential for five to eight inches of rainfall for Tinian and Saipan, with four to six inches for Rota.
Down the road
The next stop for Super Typhoon Hagibis may be landfall in south-central Japan on Saturday, October 12. It will likely be much weaker at that time than it is right now, but it may still be a significant typhoon with winds around 100 mph. Conditions in parts of Japan will deteriorate Friday night through Saturday, with the worst conditions late Saturday into Sunday, local time. Rainfall of nearly 10 inches is possible for some locations in south-central Japan.
Depending on the ultimate path Hagibis takes and its intensity upon landfall, operations at several oil facilities and international airports could be disrupted from Osaka to Nagoya and Tokyo. This is shown by the orange “donuts” in the FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events map above (orange indicated a Moderate level of impact expected; if they become red, this would indicate a High level of impact). Port operations may also be impacted, with delays to shipping routes in the northern Philippine Sea and the Sea of Japan.
The World Shipping Council ranks the Port of Tokyo as the thirty-third busiest container port in the world, handling more than 4.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2018. The Port of Nagoya is the largest and busiest trading port in Japan, accounting for about 10% of the nation’s total trade value.
Because Hagibis is still five days away from impacting Japan, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center has low confidence in its forecast for Friday and Saturday. Forecasters there will closely watch and track this powerful and dangerous super typhoon throughout the week. Look for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.