Big chance Typhoon Hagupit will hit PH – PAGASA
MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – State weather bureau PAGASA said Wednesday, December 3, there is a "big chance" of Typhoon Hagupit making landfall this weekend in the Visayas.
The possibility of Hagupit making a direct hit on Philippine landmass went up 75% as of Wednesday, PAGASA deputy administrator Jun Dalida said during a press conference at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
As of 4 pm Wednesday, Hagupit was located at 1,278 km east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. It is forecast to move west northwest at 30 km per hour.
It is expected to enter Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) by Thursday, December 4, with 160 km per hour winds and gustiness of up to 195 km per hour. It will be given the Philippine codename Ruby.
The typhoon is then expected to cross the Visayas – Samar, Leyte, northern part of Cebu, northern part Panay, southern part of Bicol – by Sunday, December 7, if current forecasts hold.
The trough or the extension of a low pressure area located north of the Philippines could pull Hagupit away from the Philippine landmass, although it may be too weak to make this happen. The possibility of the typhoon recurving north has gone down 25%, lower than earlier projections that put it at 40%.
"Ang ating deciding point ay 'yung doon pa siya bago siya mag-landfall kung aakyat siya o didiretso. That is December 5, Friday, and Saturday," explained Dalida.
If it moves northwards, Hagupit will hit Samar, Bicol and Quezon areas.
Weaker than Yolanda
PAGASA said it will announce detailed typhoon track 48 hours before it makes landfall.
Disaster officials dismissed fears that the typhoon will be as strong as typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) but it will be strong nonetheless to cause storm surges, destroy agricultural farms and blow away houses made of light materials.
"Ang bagyo ay malakas pero hindi kasing lakas ng Yolanda (The typhoon is strong but it won't be as strong as Yolanda," said National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) chief Alexander Pama. Yolanda had maximum winds of up to 220 km per hour.
Dalida warned that 180 km per hour is already very strong.
PAGASA warned of possible 3-4 meter high storm surges along the coastlines of Eastern Visayas because of Hagupit.
Local government units have activated their preparedness mechanisms, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said during the briefing.
NDRRMC has raised the maximum red alert on Wednesday. A full council meeting is scheduled on Thursday.
Tacloban on alert
As the probability of the typhoon hitting the Visayas becomes higher, authorities in Tacloban City, ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last year, are faced with how to keep residents still living in tents after the 2013 disaster safe.
Residents in the city of Tacloban, which bore the brunt of Haiyan – the most powerful storm ever to make landfall – last year were clearing out grocery shelves in an effort to stock up on emergency provisions ahead of the storm.
Meanwhile authorities were due to meet later Wednesday to identify new evacuation centers far from shore.
Tacloban City Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin said about 500 families were still living in tents more than a year after waves up to 7 meters (23 feet) tall driven ashore by Yolanda destroyed their homes.
They and some 3,000 other families housed in temporary shelters are the priority in case the city government orders a mandatory evacuation, he said.
"Of course they are deadly. These would be at least one storey tall," state weather forecaster Alczar Aurelio told Agence France-Presse.
"We tell our people, 'Do not panic but take precautionary measures'," Yaokasin told Agence France-Presse.
Tacloban resident Ailyn Metran told Agence France-Presse staff at her state health insurance company office have been told to pack away computers and documents ahead of Hagupit.
"I can't concentrate at work because I keep checking the (disaster alert) websites," Metran said. – With reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com