MANILA - Typhoon Maria has increased in strength while approaching the country and is threatening to bring rains to parts of the country, the state weather bureau said Sunday.
At 3 p.m., Maria was spotted 1,625 kilometers east of Northern Luzon, packing maximum sustained winds of 190 kilometers per hour and 235 kph gusts, said PAGASA.
It is also moving faster at 23 kph in a northwest direction.
Maria is expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) Monday morning, and will be named "Gardo" once it enters PAR.
Maria is unlikely to hit land, but will enhance the habagat or southwest monsoon, which will dump rains over large swaths of Luzon and Visayas.
PAGASA weather specialist Ariel Rojas clarified Maria is not as strong as Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which devastated parts of the country in 2013.
He also said that although the United States' Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) classifies Maria as a "super typhoon," PAGASA uses a different classification.
"Sa classification po ng PAGASA, ang super typhoon ay may lakas ng hangin na lampas ng 220 kilometers per hour, at klarong-klaro po, hindi pa umaabot sa super typhoon category ng PAGASA itong si Typhoon Maria," Rojas explained.
For now, the habagat will bring occasional heavy rains that may cause floods and landslides in Metro Manila, Western Visayas, Mimaropa and the provinces of Bataan, Zambales, Batangas and Cavite, said PAGASA.
Several cities and municipalities have already suspended classes on Monday in anticipation of strong rains.
The rest of the country may also experience floods and landslides due to localized thunderstorms, added the weather agency.
Visit the ABS-CBN Weather Center for the latest weather updates.