On October 19, 2013 Typhoon Francisco reached Super Typhoon status as it swirled in the Pacific Ocean, with one-minute sustained winds peaking at 160 mph (257 km/h). The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a true-color image of the major storm at 03:55 UTC (11:55 p.m. EDT) on that same day.
The tightly wound apostrophe shape and a distinct eye, typical of major typhoons, can be clearly seen. Broad convective bands reach far out from the center, suggesting a wide area of heavy rainfall beneath the storm. At the time this image was captured, Francisco was not immediately threatening land, although it was tracking towards Japan.
The storm formed southeast of Guam on October 16, and it began to intensify quickly, earning the title of Tropical Storm Francisco on October 17. Peaking in strength on October 19-20, the storm underwent an eye wall replacement cycle and began to weaken late on October 20, and winds dropped to 135 mph (217 km/h). Although this reduced the storm to Typhoon status, it still was a major storm, with winds compatible with a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. As wind shear and cooler sea surface temperatures challenged the storm, Francisco continued to weaken, and lost tropical storm status on the morning of October 24, when one-minute sustained wind speeds dropped to 70 mph (113 km/h).
At 1500 UTC (11:55 a.m.) on October 25, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported that Francisco was located about 480 miles (772 km) southwest of Yokosuka Japan, and tracking north-northeastward. The storm is becoming extra tropical, and is forecast to become a gale-force cold-core low by October 26 as it accelerates and moves over open ocean.
Once aimed directly at Japan, the storm had turned to the east-northeast, reducing the risk to the islands recently soaked by Typhoon Wipha. Although the weakened Francisco is skirting the country, southern Japan reports torrential rainfall from the storm. The town of Ikegawa reported 17 inches of rain fell in just 24 hours. A risk of flooding and landslides exist in southern Japan until the storm pulls away over the next 24 – 48 hours.