Super Typhoon Mawar has rapidly intensified, becoming the most powerful storm system observed on Earth in more than two years. With its ferocious winds and towering waves, Mawar has surged to Category 5-equivalent strength as it traverses the Pacific Ocean.
This meteorological monster is expected to maintain its devastating power for several days before eventually approaching Taiwan. Having recently skirted past Guam as a Category 4 storm, Mawar has regained strength, now ranking among the top ten strongest storms globally since 2000.
Super Typhoon Mawar’s unparalleled strength places it in the ranks of the most formidable storms ever witnessed during the month of May, surpassing all storms observed worldwide in 2022. While its formation is a result of natural variability, Mawar’s intensification aligns with the pattern of increasingly potent storms, characterized by rapid strengthening, which can be attributed to warming ocean temperatures and the impacts of human-induced climate change.
As of the latest update, Mawar boasts sustained winds of 145 knots (165 mph) and exhibits a symmetrical structure, featuring an ominously calm and hollowed-out eye at its center. Satellite imagery captures gravity waves propagating through the storm’s cloud cover, indicating the intense upward motion within Mawar’s eyewall, which creates density ripples in the upper atmosphere. Only eight typhoons in the West Pacific basin have attained Category 5 status during the month of May since 1950, making Mawar the ninth storm to achieve this feat.
Recent assessments from the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center reveal that Mawar’s maximum sustained eyewall winds reached a staggering 160 knots (185 mph), accompanied by gusts of up to 215 mph. This makes it the second West Pacific typhoon to attain such strength during May since 1958 when Typhoon Phyllis briefly reached 185 mph. Remarkably, no other storms worldwide have reached this intensity during the month of May. Since 1979, only 13 other typhoons have reached or exceeded 185 mph throughout the entire year, underscoring the exceptional power of Mawar.
Mawar’s air pressure has dropped to approximately 897 millibars, significantly lower than the average sea-level pressure of 1015 millibars. This signifies a remarkably strong low-pressure system, akin to the atmospheric pressure atop a 3,000-foot mountain. The notable pressure difference between the storm’s center and its surroundings creates a powerful inward suction that fuels the extreme winds characteristic of Mawar.
While Guam narrowly escaped a direct hit, the island experienced Category 2 winds and heavy rainfall as Mawar passed to the north. Predicting Mawar’s future path remains challenging due to the presence of two flanking high-pressure systems—one over the west central Pacific and the other over China. The interplay between these systems will determine the storm’s forward speed and strength.
Mawar may either thread its way north between the two systems or stall east of Taiwan, potentially leading to weakening as it churns up cooler waters. Although some weather models suggest a westward drift, the likelihood of Mawar significantly impacting Taiwan with heavy rainfall remains uncertain.
Given the favorable environmental conditions, including warm ocean temperatures and minimal high-altitude wind interference, close monitoring of Mawar’s trajectory is imperative. The storm’s sustained strength beyond current predictions necessitates continuous vigilance and underscores the need for heightened preparedness and effective mitigation measures in vulnerable regions.