MANILA - Public storm warning signal number 4 could be raised in areas in the Visayas because of the threat posed by a powerful tropical cyclone brewing near the Philippines, weather forecasters warned Tuesday.
The cyclone, "Yolanda" (international name Haiyan), is still just a tropical storm but its maximum sustained winds could exceed 185 kilometers per hour (kph) before it makes landfall in the Visayas.
"Maliit ang tsansa na hihina kasi pag nasa dagat, mas lalakas pa," PAGASA weather forecaster Rene Paciente said on Thursday.
If this happens, It will only be the 15th time that a signal number 4 is declared in the country since 1991.
Like last year's Typhoon Pablo, Yolanda could trigger flashfloods and landslides over areas in its path, including quake-devastated Bohol, PAGASA said.
The important thing is to identify landslide- and flood-prone areas and prepare an evacuation plan, authorities said.
"Pag mga sink hole kasi doon at may mga dam na puwedeng mag-ipon ng tubig," Paciente said.
Communications Sec. Sonny Coloma said disaster management authorities are keeping their eye on the cyclone.
"Nakatutok po diyan ang ating NDRRMC [National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council], at doon sa isang partikular na lugar na tinatayang tatama ito. Gusto kong ipaalam sa inyo na 'yung East Visayas DRRMC ay nakatakdang magpulong ngayong hapon sa Leyte," Coloma said.
Yolanda could affect Metro Manila
Yolanda is also expected to have a large diameter that could affect Metro Manila.
It will be 24th cyclone to enter the Philippine area of responsibility this year, with 2 to 3 more expected before the year ends.
The country only gets an average of 18 to 20 cyclones per year but had 32 in 1993.
PAGASA forecaster Buddy Javier, in an interview with dzMM, said Yolanda is still a tropical storm with 115 kph maximum sustained winds and 145 kph gusts.
He said the cyclone will be felt by Thursday night.
Javier also said that compared to foreign weather agencies, PAGASA has no "super typhoon" category.
The United States Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) said the weather disturbance would reach its maximum strength just before its projected landfall.
The JTWC said Haiyan could pack as much as 130 knots (240.76 kph) by 6 p.m. of November 7, Thursday.
It said Haiyan will then weaken to 115 knots (212.98 kph) by 6 p.m. of November 8, Friday, or after crossing the Philippines.
Heading for Samar
"Samar, Leyte ang tatamaan," Javier said, adding that the cyclone will affect Bicol.
"Metro Manila, sakop pa rin siya ng spiral, maapektuhan siya," he added. "Bohol aabot siya. Hagip na iyung Bohol area."
Paciente said Yolanda is expected to strengthen into a full-blown typhoon before it makes landfall.
"Bagama't puwede pang magbago ang direksyon nito, hindi na ito hihina pa, kundi mas lalakas pa nga. Hangin at ulan ang dala ng bagyo," he said.
Paciente also warned Yolanda may even develop into a typhoon comparable to Pablo, which devastated Mindanao in December last year.
Pablo's maximum sustained winds reached at least 185 kph.
"Para itong si Pablo, typhoon intensity na pagpasok pa lang sa PAR so malakas na. Until mag-landfall, umabot ng 185 kph. Umabot ng signal number 4 kay Pablo," he said.
"Maraming moisture at hangin but we don't know kung kasingdami ng dalang ulan ni Pablo. Pagpasok sa PAR [Philippine Area of Responsibility] tsaka natin malalaman kung gaano ito tulad ni Pablo," he added.
Bicol, Bohol preparing for typhoon
People in the Bicol region and Bohol started preparing on Tuesday for the typhoon's arrival.
Waterways in Legazpi City are being cleared, while rescue equipment and medical kits are ready for use.
The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol was also placed on blue alert, while local officials met Tuesday to discuss the typhoon's threat.
Preemptive evacuation will be undertaken in flood-prone areas, as well as communities near the Mayon volcano, OCD regional director Raffy Alejandro said.
In Bohol, small boats have been barred from crossing the Abatan river because of the strong current, while roads passing mountain villages have been closed.
Coast Guard and Navy rescue boats have also been prepared to respond if needed. - with reports from Jing Castañeda, Thea Omelan, and Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News; ANC
Regions,Top Story,Top Stories,philippines,typhoon,cyclone,MSN,weather top,Yolanda,Haiyan