Catanduanes under signal no. 2
7 provinces, 1 island under signal no. 1
Technically not yet a 'supertyphoon'; Wind strength still at 195 kph near center, gusts up to 230 kph
Latest DOST-PAGASA MTSAT-EIR Satellite Image (timestamp on image is UTC; add 8 hours to convert to Philippine Standard Time)
MANILA - Typhoon Pepeng (international code name Parma) has slowed down slightly as it continues to move towards the Aurora-Isabela area, the weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAGASA) said Thursday evening.
In the bureau's 11 p.m. bulletin, Pepeng was located 390 kilometers (km) east southeast of Virac, Catanduanes, or 360 km east northeast of Catarman, Northern Samar, as of 10 p.m. Thursday.
Pepeng has maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center, and gustiness of up to 230 kph.
Its movement towards the west northwest - the general direction of Aurora and Isabela provinces - has slowed a bit, to 19 kph.
The weather bureau is still forecasting landfall to happen near the Aurora-Isabela area by Saturday noon.
Meanwhile, Catanduanes province has been placed under public storm warning signal number 2.
Public storm warning signal number 1 is still in effect over Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Quezon (including the Polilio Islands), and Aurora, with Sorsogon, Burias Island and Northern Samar joining the list.
PAGASA said residents in low-lying areas and near mountain slopes under Signal No. 2 and Signal No.1 are advised to take all the necessary precautionary measures against possible flashfloods and landslides.
"The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 5 a.m. tomorrow (Friday)," the bulletin said.
PAGASA said that there are three possible scenarios for the path of the typhoon, all of which would affect mostly Northern Luzon.
In the first possible scenario, Pepeng would make landfall over Aurora province by Saturday morning or noon, and go inland over the provinces of northern Luzon in a west-northwest direction. In this scenario, it would exit Luzon at the area of Ilocos Norte.
In the second possible scenario, which could be verified in the next bulletin, the typhoon would go west once it makes landfall, with the eye of the storm passing through parts of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and exiting near the area of La Union and Ilocos Sur.
This scenario could also make the typhoon be felt over a large swathe of Luzon, particularly Region III (Central Luzon) and Metro Manila.
In the last possible scenario, the typhoon would not make landfall over Luzon and instead veer northward, targeting Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China instead.
PAGASA said the last scenario would be ideal, but Pepeng is most likely to make landfall over Aurora and affect most of Luzon.
Foreign weather agencies and media have already called Pepeng, or Parma, already as a "supertyphoon" but PAGASA said the Philippines does not officially use such term to describe a typhoon of such strength.
The national weather bureau said under the PAGASA definition, a supertyphoon would have winds of up to 215 kph.
However, media and the general public can use the said term to describe the typhoon to help people understand the gravity of the weather disturbance.
Typhoon Parma was building strength as it closed in on the Southeast Asian nation and was expected to dump more heavy rain on areas still reeling from the weekend floods that forced nearly 700,000 people into evacuation camps.
"We are dealing with a very strong typhoon, so we should be at the highest level of preparedness," weather bureau spokesman Nathaniel Santiago said, amid forecasts the typhoon would make landfall on Saturday.
The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said that evacuation of residents in areas seen to be affected by the typhoon is under the jurisdiction of the local governments involved. However, people are advised to evacuate even without government warnings ahead of the storm.
Those in the direct path of the typhoon in Cagayan province on the northeastern seaboard of the Philippines' main Luzon island are to be forcibly evacuated if they refused to leave their homes, police said.
"We will first appeal on them to leave but if we see that they are in immediate danger, we will forcibly carry them to evacuation centers," said Chief Superintendent Roberto Damian, commander of the region that covers Cagayan.
While Parma was likely to bring less than half the rains of Saturday's tropical storm “Ondoy”, it was expected to compound flooding in Manila, parts of which remain submerged due to blocked drainage systems.
Ketsana dumped the heaviest rains in four decades on Manila and in surrounding areas on Luzon, triggering floods that swamped the national capital with up to six meters (20 feet) of water.
The number of flood survivors staying in gymnasiums, schools and other makeshift evacuation camps also continued to balloon, with about 687,000 people staying in them, the government said.
Those in the cramped, under-resourced evacuation centers were told to prepare for the new storm, with fresh rains certain to aggravate already squalid conditions.
As Typhoon Parma approached, worried Manila residents who had returned to their homes after the floodwaters receded, and those whose houses were unaffected, were stocking up on food and emergency lights.
Waitress Angel Francisco, 16, rushed back to check on her mother at their still-flooded home in suburban Pasig city.
"There's a new typhoon according to the news and I am worried for my mother," she told Agence France-Presse, as she hitched a ride with a delivery truck to try and evacuate her mother. With reports from Jenny Reyes, ABS-CBN News and Agence France-Presse