The 17th named storm of the year in the western Pacific packed maximum sustained winds of over 160 mph when it passed well east of the Philippine archipelago.
That made it the second-strongest tropical cyclone on Earth during 2012, behind Typhoon Sanba and its peak winds of 178 mph nearly two weeks earlier.
Satellite images revealed a well-defined eye as the storm reached its maximum intensity about 400 miles east of Manila.
Jelawat later passed to the east of Taiwan and was predicted to strike the southern Japanese island of Okinawa as a Category 2 storm late Friday or Saturday.
Far eastern Japan was on alert for the storm’s arrival a little more than a day later.
The Japan Meteorological Agency says it expects Jelawat to be a minimal hurricane or tropical storm by the time it affects the main island of Honshu, including metropolitan Tokyo.
Typhoon Jelawat Track
Satellite Loop Data: CIMSS