• AFP-Jiji, staff report


A super typhoon that rapidly formed in just 48 hours is threatening both the Philippines and Taiwan with destructive winds and torrential rains over the coming days.

On Friday evening, Typhoon Chanthu was moving north northwest off the coast of the Philippines, tracking by the Japan Meteorological Agency showed. The agency’s forecast showed the storm skirting the coast of Taiwan over the weekend and into Monday before a possible turn toward Japan next week.

Meteorologists have marveled at how quickly Chanthu morphed into a powerful storm after it first emerged on Monday in between Guam and the Philippines.

“Chanthu went from a depression to a cat-5-equivalent typhoon in 48 hours,” Sam Lillo, a researcher at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, wrote on Twitter, referring to the scale to 5 used to note the strength of hurricanes. Only five other storms, all this century, have done that, he added.

Over just two days, Chanthu’s wind speeds went from 48 kph to 257 kph at their height.

Scientists have long warned that typhoons are becoming more powerful and strengthening more rapidly as the world becomes warmer because of human-caused climate change.

“This week, Super Typhoon Chanthu provided another stark example of how quickly a storm can strengthen,” NASA wrote in an article about the storm on its Earth Observatory blog.

The Earth tends to experience around five storms on part with a super typhoon in a year.

Meteorologists say that while Chanthu is powerful, it is small in size and will be unpredictable.

“Small tropical cyclones are capable of very rapid intensity changes, both strengthening and weakening,” hurricane scientist Jeff Masters wrote on Yale Climate Connections.

Taiwan is regularly hit by tropical storms in the summer months.

In a rare exception to the rule, not a single typhoon made landfall last year, the first time in 56 years.

That helped fuel the worst drought in decades until heavy rains set in a few months ago and brought needed relief.

The Hong Kong Observatory’s projection has Chanthu reducing from a super to a severe typhoon on Sunday as it nears Taiwan’s southeastern coast.

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