After slowly churning through the Bay of Bengal without gaining significant strength and without forecasters predicting that it would Tropical Cyclone Nargis has suddenly intensified into a monstrous Category 4 storm with winds of up to 132 mph, according to the latest data from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
The latest warning chart published shows the hurricane hours from landfall in Myanmar.
There are scant new reports about the storm, so it's difficult to verify the information from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Most reports are out of neighboring Bangladesh, where there is relief that the storm will not make a direct hit. Just months ago, Bangladesh was devastated by a Category 4 hurricane, Cyclone Sidr, which killed thousands, affected millions and decimated the nation's rice crop.
The last prediction was for Nargis to make landfall as a Category 1 or Category 2 storm. The latest information shows a sudden jump in intensity.
The chart below shows that at the point marked by the time 02/06Z (6 GMT on May 2) Nargis had sustained winds of 115 knots (132 mph) with gusts of up to 140 knots (161 mph). Even after making landfall, it is expected to remain at Category 2 strength for a time, with winds above 100 mph.
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