Super Typhoon Hagupit is raging in the western Pacific Ocean at this hour with winds around 150 MPH. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicts that Hagupit could have 185 MPH winds when it comes perilously close to making landfall in the Philippines over the weekend.

Hagupit, locally known as "Typhoon Ruby," took advantage of low wind shear, warm waters, and ample atmospheric moisture in order to grow into a super typhoon, which is the equivalent of a category four or five on the Saffir-Simpson Scale used in the United States. There is a bit of anxiety about the track, as some forecasters are unsure whether the storm will make a direct landfall on the Philippines or approach the island nation, skirt the coast, and move towards mainland Asia.

Currently, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, the tropical cyclone forecasting branch of the United States Navy, is the only forecasting outlet that predicts Hagupit to curve away from the Philippines. Four other top-level agencies—Japan's Japan Meteorological Administration, China's National Meteorological Center, Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau, and South Korea's Korea Meteorological Administration—all expect the super typhoon to strike the country late Saturday or early Sunday.

This morning's run of the European model shows the system weakening as it makes a direct hit on the island nation, but moving very, very slowly as it comes ashore. This afternoon's run of the GFS (American global) model follows the JTWC's forecast track, but a little closer to shore. Either way, the storm slowing down as it approaches the country could have lethal impacts, prolonging the intense wind, rain, and surge that are slated to affect areas closest to Hagupit's center.

44 provinces on Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao area under "Alert Level 'C'" in anticipation of Hagupit's arrival, according to The Philippine Star, meaning that heavy damage to agriculture, infrastructure, and buildings is expected.

In November 2013, the Philippines was most notably impacted by Super Typhoon Haiyan (locally called "Yolanda"), one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded. The storm—initially feared to have killed more than 10,000 people—created unfathomable destruction as it tore through the central part of the southeast Asian country. The destruction was especially intense around Tacloban City, an urban area with nearly a quarter million residents that sits at the top of a funnel-shaped bay. The storm's surge piled into the narrow bay, resulting in a 20-foot storm surge that, along with the intense winds, wiped out 80% of the city's buildings.

[Images: NOAA, Typhoon2000]

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