The Super Typhoon Maysak has now reached a Category Five, with sustained winds at over 150 miles per hour, setting to hit the small island of Yap in the Caroline Islands Tuesday afternoon. This is the third instance of a typhoon in Micronesia this year, setting a record for typhoons in the Western Pacific Ocean this early in the year.
The beginning of Super Typhoon Maysak is the first time two high-category typhoons have occurred in the Western Pacific before the month of April. The storm rivals that of previous typhoons which were Super Typhoon Ophelia in 1958 and Super Typhoon Mitag back in 2002. Even though both of these storms had maximum winds of 160 miles per hour, Super Typhoon Maysak has the ability to surpass this threshold to be a major historical marker.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), unseasonably mild ocean temperatures, along with the onset of El Nino, are causing the rise of such uncharacteristic typhoons. The NOAA stated Western Pacific typhoons are at a temperature of 3.6 Fahrenheit above what is normal for this time of the year. Moreover, global warming may be a factor in the increase in frequency for these massive storms, though this has yet to be proven.
Currently, Super Typhoon Maysak is not forecast to make land fall with full intensity, but it could strike Yap, with a population of around 11,000, on Tuesday. Forecasts from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center predict the storm may pass to the north of Yap, sparing thousands from undeniably tragic damage.
By Alex Lemieux
Photo by NASA – Flickr License