The scenario of strengthening Hagupit, locally known as Ruby, bringing life-threatening dangers to the Philippines appears highly likely.
Hagupit strengthened into a typhoon early Tuesday night PHT (Tuesday morning EST), but strengthening continued from Wednesday into Thursday.
According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Hagupit reached Super Typhoon status with sustained winds near 240 kph (150 mph) and gusts close to 300 kph (185 mph) as of Wednesday afternoon EST.
Additional strengthening of Hagupit is possible through Thursday, local time, before nearing the Philippines.
AccuWeather.com meteorologists have identified two scenarios for Hagupit. Both involve Hagupit being a very powerful and dangerous typhoon. However, the extent of the impacts on the Philippines will depend on the track Hagupit takes later this week.
The first scenario would be a westerly track, bringing the typhoon into the central Philippines this weekend and in contact with a much more significant population.
“If the storm takes the track into the Philippines, the impacts will be potentially very severe with widespread flooding, damaging winds, mudslides, storm surge and pounding surf,” stated AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Anthony Sagliani.
The danger for flooding would become extreme and more life-threatening if Hagupit slows its forward movement and crawls through the Philippines, unloading inundating amounts of rain.
This animated GIF shows Hagupit tracking across the Philippine Sea. (NOAA/Satellite)
Much of the Philippines would be spared the worst of this cyclone if the second scenario of Hagupit unfolds. In this scenario, the typhoon turns northward through the Philippine Sea just east of the Philippines, then northeastward in the Northwest Pacific Ocean.
If the cyclone turns east of the Philippines, the outer bands could bring torrential rainfall to eastern Luzon this weekend.
Hagupit could stall before making much northward progress, which would keep seas violently stirred up for a prolonged period of time across the Philippine Sea.
Manila will likely be spared the worst of this cyclone; however, if it tracks west across the Philippines, downpours could still result in flooding as early as Sunday.
Depending on how sharp of a northeastward turn Hagupit takes, the Volcano Islands could be threatened or impacts could be felt along the southern coast of Japan next week.
All interests from the Philippines to Japan should closely monitor the progress of what will become a dangerous typhoon.
AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Eric Leister contributed to the content of this story.