We’ve seen a lot of weird-ass tropical cyclones in recent years. This week, we can add another one to the list.
Typhoon Wutip formed and brushed Guam late last week. That alone made it an oddity in terms of timing and location. But rather than weakening as forecast, the storm blew up into a Category 5 monster over the weekend. That makes Wutip the first Category 5 storm of any kind—typhoon, cyclone, or hurricane—ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere in February.
When we covered Wutip on Friday, all forecasts pointed to the storm wimping out over the weekend. Instead, the storm exploded into a super typhoon, a storm with winds in excess of 150 mph, on Saturday into early Sunday morning. Its sustained winds leaped from from 125 mph to 160 mph in just 12 hours with gusts reaching up to 180 mph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. That put it well above the previous February record holder, Super Typhoon Higos, which saw winds top out at 150 mph winds in February 2015. It also made Wutip the first February Category 5-equivalent storm to form not just in the Pacific but anywhere in the northern hemisphere.
Wutip also looked the part, with satellite imagery straight out of central casting. The storm had a wide and symmetrical eye at its peak. Both are characteristics of an annular cyclone, storms that tend to be exceptionally strong and usually form over open water.
"And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven." Luke 21:11