Super typhoon Yolanda packing 300 kph winds: US military
20 areas under storm signal no. 4
MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - Super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan), the world's strongest tropical cyclone of 2013, is packing winds in excess of 300 kilometers per hour, the US military said early Friday morning, just before the cyclone made landfall in the Visayas.
The US Navy and Air Force's Joint Typhoon Warning Center, in its Super Typhoon 31W Warning No. 19, said Yolanda has maximum sustained winds of 315 kph (170 knots) and gusts reaching 380 kph (205 knots).
The Hawaii-based weather center, which data is used by meteorologists worldwide, based is readings on one-minute average measurements.
"Due to very favorable environmental conditions, [Yolanda] is expected to remain at super typhoon intensity over the next 24 hours," it added.
To compare, similar Category 5 level storms this year -- Usagi, Francisco, Lekima, and Phailin -- only had maximum sustained winds of 260 kph.
Super typhoon Pablo also only carried 259 kph sustained winds and 314 kph gusts when it hit Mindanao in December 2012.
This, as state weather bureau PAGASA placed 20 areas on Yolanda's path under public storm warning signal number 4.
The areas are: Masbate, Ticao Island, Southern Sorsogon, Romblon, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran province, Northern Cebu, Cebu City, Bantayan and Camotes Islands, Northern Negros Occidental, Capiz, Aklan, Antique, Iloilo, and Guimaras.
Communities in the said locations will experience winds of more than 185 kph is expected in at least 12 hours, PAGASA said.
Public storm warning signal number 3 has been hoisted over the following areas: Rest of Sorsogon, Burias Island, Albay, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Calamian Group of Islands, rest of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, rest of Cebu, Bohol, Surigao del Norte, Siargao Island, and Dinagat province.
Storm signal number 2 has been raised over Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Southern Quezon, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Metro Manila,Cavite, Bataan, Lubang Islands, Northern Palawan, Siquijor, Camiguin, Surigao Del Sur, and Agusan del Norte.
Storm signal number 1, meanwhile, has been declared in Camarines Norte, rest of Quezon, Polilio Island, Bulacan, Pampanga, Zambales, rest of Northern Palawan, Puerto Princesa, Misamis Oriental, and Agusan del Sur.
PAGASA, which uses 10-minute average readings, measured Yolanda's maximum sustained winds at 225 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 260 kph.
The typhoon is expected to make landfall 5 a.m. Friday over Guiuan, Eastern Samar, the state weather bureau said.
Yolanda, which is moving west-northwest at 39 kph, was spotted 170 km east southeast of Guiuan at 1 a.m. Friday.
It is expected to be near Coron, Palawan, by Friday night.
After making landfall, the typhoon is expected to pass across Biliran, the northern tip of Cebu, Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, Romblon, Semirara Island, the southern part of Mindoro, Busuanga and will exit the Philippine landmass Saturday early morning toward the West Philippine Sea.
Yolanda is carrying estimated rainfall from 10 mm to 30 mm per hour (heavy to intense) within its 600 km diameter.
"Residents in low lying and mountainous areas under signal #4, #3,#2, and #1 are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides," PAGASA warned.
"Likewise, those living in coastal areas under signal #4, #3 and #2 are alerted against storm surges which may reach up to 7-meter wave height," it added.
PNoy: Prepare for typhoon
President Benigno Aquino urged the public to make all possible preparations for the typhoon Haiyan.
"To our local officials, your constituents are facing a serious peril. Let us do all we can while (Haiyan) has not yet hit land," Aquino said in a nationally televised address.
"We can minimize the effects of this typhoon if we help each other. Let us remain calm, especially in buying our primary needs, and in moving to safer places."
Aquino warned that areas within typhoon's front would be exposed to severe flooding as well as devastating winds, while coastal areas may see waves 20 feet high.
State weather forecaster Glaize Escullar said Haiyan was expected to hit areas still recovering from a devastating storm in 2011 and from a 7.2-magnitude quake last month.
They include the central island of Bohol, the epicenter of the earthquake that killed 222 people, where at least 5,000 survivors are still living in tents while waiting for new homes.
"The provincial governor has ordered local disaster officials to ensure that pre-emptive evacuations are done, both for those living in tents as well as those in flood-prone areas," Bohol provincial administrator Alfonso Damalerio told AFP.
Other vulnerable areas are the port cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan on the southern island of Mindanao, where flash floods induced by Tropical Storm Washi killed more than 1,000 people in December 2011.
Authorities said evacuations were taking place in many other towns and villages in Haiyan's path, while schools were closed, ferry services suspended and fishermen ordered to secure their vessels.
Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and other carriers announced the suspension of hundreds of flights, mostly domestic but also some international.
The Philippines is battered by an average of 20 major storms or typhoons each year, many of them deadly, but scientists have said climate change may be increasing their ferocity and frequency.
The Philippines endured the world's strongest storm of 2012, when Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) left about 2,000 people dead or missing on Mindanao island in December.
The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System, jointly run by the United Nations and the European Commission, said nearly 16 million people, including more than 12 million from the Philippines, were at risk from Yolanda.
The others were in Laos and Vietnam, which are forecast to be hit on Sunday, it said on its website.
"[The typhoon] can have a high humanitarian impact," it said. - with a report from Agence France-Presse