Philippines braces for Super Typhoon Hagupit

Millions of people in the Philippines begin seeking in makeshift evacuation centres and stockpiling food and medicine as a monster typhoon bears down on the disaster-weary nation.
Video provided by AFP

Powerful Super Typhoon Hagupit tracked closer to the Philippines on Friday and was expected to batter the island nation over the weekend.

More than 30 million people will be impacted by this storm, AccuWeather reports. Catastrophic damage is possible from Hagupit, which is the planet’s strongest storm of the year (tied with two other typhoons from October and November).

The storm restrengthened Friday back to super typhoon status, with sustained winds of 150 mph, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported.

Hagupit is expected to slam into Eastern Samar province late Saturday, then cut across central islands along a route north. But its path thereafter is debatable.

The computer models of the two agencies tracking the typhoon closely — the U.S. military’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii and the Philippine weather agency — showed different tracks for the typhoon because of a low-pressure area interacting with it.

Thousands of residents have nonetheless fled coastal homes and the prospect of the storm has triggered panic-buying in grocery stores and gas stations.

« I’m scared, » Manila resident Jojo Moro, a survivor of last year’s Typhoon Haiyan that killed more than 7,300 people, said. « I’m praying to God not to let another disaster strike us again. We haven’t recovered from the first. »

The 42-year-old businessman who lost his wife, daughter and mother last year in central Tacloban city, said he stocked up on sardines, instant noodles, eggs and water.

Extreme winds, a large and deadly storm surge, and torrential rains causing massive flooding and dangerous mudslides are all of great concern for Hagupit’s landfall, Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters said.

The storm « could be an absolutely catastrophic flooding disaster if the typhoon stalls near any of the islands, » meteorologist Ryan Maue said in an email.

Manila is 13 hours ahead of U.S. eastern time.

It’s been 13 months since Haiyan — also known as Yolanda — slammed into the Philippines in November 2013 and demolished about one million houses. Tacloban City was hardest hit.

« Definitely we will now strictly enforce forced evacuation, » Tacloban City Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin told the Philippine Star. « We have no more excuse, we have gone through Yolanda, and to lose that many lives, it’s beyond our conscience already. »

A typhoon is the same type of storm as a hurricane but is called a typhoon in the western Pacific Ocean.

In the Philippines, Hagupit has been given the name Ruby. The Philippines has its own alphabetical list of names, separate from the international list that comes from the World Meteorological Organization, for tropical storms and typhoons that pass near or over its territory, the Weather Channel said.

There is no official typhoon season in the western Pacific, as typhoons can form there year-round. On average, about 30 tropical storms and typhoons form in the western Pacific Ocean each year, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center reports.

« The Philippines lie in the most tropical cyclone-prone waters on Earth, and rarely escape a year without experiencing a devastating typhoon, » Masters said.

Contributing: Associated Press

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