Take a look at that image up there. It’s the planetary version of ಠ_ಠ. Earth, it appears, is sick of our shit and it’s sent the message via two monstrous cyclones in the Pacific.
Hurricane Walaka and Super Typhoon Kong-rey are out there staring down satellites, and by extension, their human creators. The storms underwent a dramatic transformation Sunday night into Monday and are now the two strongest storms on the face of the Earth.
Both underwent rapid intensification, a meteorological process where cyclones’—the generic name for hurricanes and typhoons—wind speeds crank up at least 35 mph over a 24-hour stretch. Walaka, situated in the Central Pacific, was officially a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph as of 11 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time, though meteorologist Ryan Maue estimated that based on satellite observations, it was likely much stronger by mid-morning local time.
Meanwhile Kong-rey, churning in the Western Pacific about 200 miles southeast of Taipei, was packing sustained winds upwards of 155 mph, the equivalent of a strong Category 4 hurricane. It could menace Japan late this week, continuing a string of rotten weather luck that’s plagued the country all year.
Jeff Masters, a meteorologist at Weather Underground, told Earther that the official forecast was likely underestimating Kong-rey as well. In both cases, that’s due to something forecasters use when looking at satellite images known as the Dvorak constraint. Basically if a storm looks like it’s intensifying too fast, they assume satellite error is responsible.
Assuming the storms continue to strengthen and officially obtain Category 5 status, they would become the first pair of Category 5 storms ever recorded at the same time in the Pacific, according to Masters.
“We came within 6 hours of this happening in 2009, though,” he told Earther. Then, Super Typhoon Lupit became a Category 5 in the Western Pacific just six hours after Hurricane Rick weakened slightly. Alas!