Typhoon Utor left two dead and 44 missing as it tore across the Philippine island of Luzor Monday. About 80 percent of the infrastructure in the town of Casiguran (population 24,000) was destroyed, according to meteorologist, Dr. Jeff Masters.
Utor is now moving across the South China Sea and Masters predicts it will hit about 200 hundred miles southwest of Hong Kong at about 6 a.m. UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) Wednesday.
The typhoon lost strength as it moved across land, its wind speed slowing from 140 mph to 100 mph; it was downgraded from a category 4 to a category 2 storm. It will likely gain strength over the sea initially, writes Masters in his blog, as it travels over warm waters and against low wind shear, but closer to China, the water temperatures cool and the wind shear will be higher. He predicts the typhoon will hit as a category 2 or 3 storm. Wind shear is a sudden shift in wind direction and speed.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported Utor’s maximum significant wave height is 30 feet. Utor is located about 400 miles southeast of Hong Kong.