MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said typhoon Pablo, forecasted to be the most powerful storm to hit this year, has entered the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR).
The weather bureau said typhoon Pablo entered PAR at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. It was located 900 kilometers east of Hinatuan City, Surigao del Sur.
The typhoon is expected to affect Mindanao and Visayas, as well as areas in Southern Tagalog and Metro Manila, Pagasa earlier said.
"Pablo" is expected to make landfall over Surigao del Norte on Tuesday morning. Based on a 4:00 p.m. report, the typhoon was packing maximum sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 220 kph. It is also forecast to move west northwest at 22 kph.
PAGASA weather division chief Robert Sawi said floods and landslides are possible in Surigao, Davao, Compostela Valley, Misamis, Bukidnon, Lanao, Zamboanga, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, Negros, Panay and Mindoro.
The typhoon will cross the Visayas islands on Wednesday towards Panay, northern Palawan and Mindoro, and over the South Philippine Sea on Thursday as it gradually weakens, the PAGASA weather division chief added.
PAGASA also said earlier there is a big possibility that it will become a super typhoon and may be even stronger than "Sendong," which caused massive destruction in Mindanao in December last year.
"Ang Sendong noong pumasok, 65 kph lang siya, pero ito 165 (kph) na ngayon," said PAGASA weather forecaster Jori Loiz.
Meanwhile, the Manila International Airport Authority reported that two Cebu Pacific flights were cancelled Sunday due to the weather condition.
Flights 5J 785 and 5J 786 were both bound for Butuan today.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, on the other hand, directed his field officials, including the regional directors of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), to link up with local disaster management councils and issue geohazard advisories in areas that are expected to be affected by typhoon Pablo.
"As PAGASA has warned, we are expecting typhoon Pablo to dump large volume of rainfall in Mindanao. We have to heed their warning and be prepared as this could bring adverse impact on the people such as landslides and flooding," Paje said.
The geohazard map shows the level or rating of an area's susceptibility (i.e. high, moderate or low) to landslide and flooding, from province to municipality down to the barangays.
He also asked the public to study the geohazard maps. "We have already distributed copies of the geohazard maps to all local government units, so they can take a look at it. Or, they may visit the regional offices of MGB or view them on the web," he said.
The maps can be accessed through the websites of the DENR, MGB, Philippine Information Agency and the Environmental Science for Social Change.