Storm warning signal raised in 13 areas

MANILA – Packing maximum sustained winds of 140 knots (259 kilometers per hour), “Yolanda” (international name Haiyan) has reached supertyphoon status comparable to a Category 5 cyclone in the Western hemisphere, American meteorologists said Wednesday.

The tropical cyclone, which entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility early Thursday, is expected to reach its peak strength of 268 kph sustained winds and 324 kph gusts in the next 12 hours, according to the US Navy and Air Force’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).

Yolanda will be the most powerful cyclone in the world this year if it gains more strength.

State weather bureau PAGASA, in an advisory, raised public storm warning signal number 1 over the following areas:

Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran Island, Camotes Island, Surigao del Norte including Siargao Island, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, and the northern part of Agusan Del Sur.

The typhoon was last spotted 943 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur and is forecast to move west morthwest at 30 kph.

PAGASA said its readings, which differ from foreign agencies, show the typhoon packing maximum sustained winds of 195 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 230 kph.

Yolana is expected to be at 423 km east southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar by Thursday night and 55 km southeast of Romblon by Friday night.

It is carrying estimated rainfall from 10 mm to 30 mm per hour (heavy to intense) within its 600 km diameter.

PAGASA warned that sea travel is risky over the eastern seaboard of southern Luzon and eastern Visayas because of the typhoon.

Dr. Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground, said in his blog Wednesday described Yolanda as “extremely dangerous.”

He said Yolanda is the fourth Category 5 cyclone in the Western Pacific and fifth worldwide so far this year.

Masters said the typhoon has a tiny pinhole eye will likely maintain its strength until its landfall.

“The only brake on Haiyan’s strength over the next day might be an eyewall replacement cycle, which will be capable of causing a temporary weakening,” he added.

PAGASA, meanwhile, said Wednesday that storm signal number 4 could be raised in Bicol and in eastern Visayas, where it is expected to make landfall Friday afternoon.

“Nakikita natin na talagang malakas yung bagyo. Dapat maghanda tayo dahil pupwede po talagang mag-iissue tayo ng pinakamataas nating signal,” PAGASA acting deputy administrator Flaviana Hilario said.

“Iyung hangin na tatama dun sa isang lugar ay lalagpas sa 185 kph. Iyun pa lamang ay talagang delubyo na yung mangyayari dun sa area na tataasan natin ng signal number 4,” said Robert Sawi, officer-in-charge of PAGASA’s weather division.

Sawi said Yolanda’s strong winds could be powerful enough to uproot large trees, topple electric posts, and tear roofs off houses.

“Iyung intensity na 185 kph, sobrang lakas na ito, baka halos wala nang matirang puno sa lugar,” he said.

The US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s projected track of super typhoon Yolanda.