'Butchoy' now a typhoon, US weather agency says

By Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jun 15 2012 04:00 AM | Updated as of Jun 15 2012 12:23 PM

Typhoon Butchoy's location and projected track, according to the US Navy-Air Force's Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Cyclone not expected to make landfall in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines - "Butchoy" (international name Guchol) has become a full-fledged typhoon, according to latest data  from the US Navy-Air Force's Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).

The tropical cyclone is not expected to make landfall in the Philippines but is predicted to bring heavy rains and strong winds across the country.

The typhoon was packing maximum sustained winds of up to 70 knots (129.64 kilometers per hour) near the center and gusts of up to 85 knots (157.42 kph) as of late Thursday night, according to the JTWC.

The Hawaii-based US military task force predicted "Butchoy" to gain more strength in the next 24 hours, reaching maximum sustained winds of 148 kph and gusts of 185 kph.

The typhoon is forecast to intensify to a peak of 175.94 kph before it weakens as it nears Okinawa, Japan.

"Butchoy" was last seen 10.8 degrees north, 132.7 degrees east, moving westward as it makes its way across the waters off eastern Philippines.

It is expected to be around 11.8 degrees north 129.4 degrees east by Friday.

Philippine state weather bureau PAGASA's last forecast for "Butchoy" as of 10:45pm Thursday still had it at tropical storm level, with winds of 95 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 120 kph.

Under PAGASA's classification system, an intense tropical cyclone becomes a typhoon if it reaches maximum wind speeds exceeding 118 kph.

No storm warning signals yet

PAGASA has yet to raise public storm warning signals in the country because of the tropical cyclone.

"Butchoy" is expected to dump 15 to 25 millimeters of rain within its 300-kilometer diameter, according to PAGASA.

It is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility around Tuesday.

Authorities continue to warn residents of Sarangani, Davao, and Surigao of floods and landslides that may be triggered by the storm.

Fisherfolk in the provinces of Davao del Sur, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Surigao, Siargao, Dinagat, Eastern Samar, Southern Leyte and Bicol were also warned not to go out to sea.

Other foreign weather agencies, such as the Japan Meteorological Agency and the Hong Kong Observatory, were expecting "Butchoy" to become a full-fledged typhoon only by Saturday.