UPDATED Dec. 24, 2016 11:45 a.m. PT to include new details about Super Typhoon Nock-ten’s intensity.
Typhoon Nock-ten, known as Nina in the Philippines, has significantly intensified into a Category-equivalent super typhoon.
It is expected to make landfall in the Philippines as a Category 3 or 4 storm on Christmas Day, and to pass near or over Manila on Dec. 26-27. This storm poses a major threat to the Philippines and is an unusually intense late-season typhoon.
Unlike other major storms that have hit the Philippines this year, Typhoon Nock-ten is expected to hit the more populated parts of Luzon, including the capital city of Manila.
The storm’s track is a major concern since it puts more than 10 million people at risk from high winds, flooding rains and potentially deadly storm surge flooding.
On Saturday, the National Weather Service released an animation of Super Typhoon Nock-ten in the West Pacific just east of the Philippines.
The timing of the storm is inconvenient, too, given the Christmas holiday. The storm is forecast to buffet the Philippines starting on Christmas Day, first making landfall near Catanduanes early on Dec. 26 before moving near or over Manila on Dec. 27.
This storm will be an unwelcome Christmas gift to the most natural disaster prone nation on Earth. If the storm is still of Category 2 or greater intensity when it hits Manila, the threat of flooding may be the greatest concern, given that the city is low-lying and suffers floods during more ordinary downpours.
The Philippines has already seen several typhoons in 2016, including two that hit within one week in October. The more severe of those storms was Super Typhoon Haima. That storm made landfall in far northern Luzon as a Category 5-equivalent storm.
However, the forecast track for Typhoon Nock-ten is more problematic since it would traverse a more populated area than Haima did.
The storm intensified while moving across an area with high ocean temperatures and low atmospheric wind shear, two factors that encourage a tropical cyclone to grow stronger. Conditions may become more hostile as the storm approaches land, causing it to weaken somewhat.