MANILA (UPDATE) - Severe tropical storm 'Nina' has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) Friday morning and will affect Metro Manila on Sunday, Christmas Day.
State weather bureau PAGASA weather forecaster Obet Badrina said Metro Manila residents will get the full brunt of the storm's power on Monday, but will start to feel it from Sunday until Tuesday.
He said their forecast so far is "Nina" will reach typhoon category at 130kph. Storm signal number 3 may be raised in certain areas, he added.
"Sa nakikita natin, aabot ito sa typhoon category, around 130 kph. Ibig sabihin, para ma-imagine na mga kababayan natin, hanggang signal number 3, pwedeng magtaas tayo," he said on radio DZMM.
He urged residents to fortify their homes and stock up on necessities until Saturday before the storm's eye hits Catanduanes around 5 to 8 P.M., Sunday.
"Nina" is expected to make landfall in the Quezon Province and will traverse the regions of CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and Metro Manila.
"Estimated rainfall amount is from moderate to heavy rains within its 350 km diameter of the severe tropical storm," the latest weather advisory read.
The US Joint Typhoon Warning Center said Nina was expected to be packing winds of up to 194 kilometers (120 miles) an hour and gusts of nearly 241 kilometers an hour when it hits the eastern tip of the archipelago's main island of Luzon on Sunday.
"Our people are being made aware that we could get hit on Christmas Day," Romina Marasigan, spokeswoman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told AFP.
"The highest levels of preparedness are being undertaken," she said, including stocking up designated evacuation centers with food and other provisions.
Millions of Filipinos are travelling by land, sea or air to their hometowns for the festive holiday.
The main threats were landslides and flash floods from heavy rains, as well as potentially large waves known as storm surges smashing through coastal communities, they said.
The Philippine islands are often the first major landmass to be hit by storms that generate over the Pacific. Philippines endures about 20 major storms each year, many of them deadly.
The most powerful and deadliest was Haiyan, which left 7,350 people dead or missing and destroyed entire towns in heavily populated areas of the central Philippines in November 2013.
Badrina said there is a very slim chance that 'Nina' would take a different track and be dissolved in the ocean, but it may weaken if it interacts with the northeast monsoon or the mountainous areas.
Visit the ABS-CBN Weather Center for the latest weather updates.
-- With reports from Agence France-Presse