Typhoon Noul, an intensifying storm in the western tropical Pacific, is on a track that will bring it very close to if not directly over the northern Philippines this weekend. The storm, whose maximum sustained winds have climbed rapidly to 115 mph, is the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane. Additional intensification is possible and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicts its peak winds will increase to over 130 mph by late Thursday (early Friday local time in the Philippines).

That forecast may be conservative given the warm waters ahead of the storm and lack of hostile wind shear. It’s not out of the question Noul achieves “super typhoon” intensity, with peak winds over 150 mph.The storm is most likely to make landfall Saturday evening in the northern section of Luzon, the largest and most populated island of the Philippines. Damaging winds gusts over 120 mph (and perhaps to 150 mph) and coastal and inland flooding are likely. The UK Met Office says there is the potential for up to 15 inches (400 mmm) of rain. MORE