(UPDATE) As the country braces itself for what could be a super typhoon, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Sec. Mario Montejo warned residents in the path of the storm to prepare for the worst.
In an interview with DZMM's Ted Failon, Montejo said the weather disturbance, with international name "Haiyan," could intensify into a powerful howler with winds reaching 200 kilometers per hour that could take down and uproot even coconut trees.
"We will not be surprised if it hits 200 (kph). Para maimagine natin na 200. Maimagine natin na what happened to Pablo. What happened to the latest typhoon in Cagayan na 132 (kph). This is much stronger. So yung mga niyog, matututmba yang mga yan," Montejo said.
He also said the storm could "rip out the roofs of houses" and old structures such as churches. Montejo also advised residents to anchor or tie down the roofs of their houses.
"Ang paghahanda ngayon ay kasali na ang pagtatali ng mga bubong. Nakita naman natin yung nangyari sa Pablo, including yung mga simbahan. Natanggal yung bubong. We still have time today and tomorrow (na) magtali," Montejo said.
Montejo also confirmed that the storm, which will be named "Yolanda" as soon as it enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) this week, has "so much energy" and can very well intensify into a supertyphoon, a classification for weather disturbances that pack winds of up to 200 kilometers per hour.
"Inaasahan natin na this will intensify pa. Papasok sa Philippine area of responsibility tomorrow. So baka lang umabot it sa super typhoon o signal number 4," he said.
He also said they predict heavy to intense rains in areas covered by the storm's 600 kilometer diameter.
According to the 4:00 p.m. weather bulletin issued by weather bureau PAGASA, which is under the DOST, “Haiyan” was located 1,221 km east of Mindanao with maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 210 kilometers per hour. It is forecast to move west northwest at 30 kilometers per hour.
In a briefing on Wednesday, the weather bureau said the typhoon will make landfall over the Eastern Visayas region, specifically the Samar-Leyte area. The eye of the storm is expected to cross the provinces of Northern Cebu, Northern Panay, Masbate, Romblon, Mindoro and Northern Palawan.
Floods and landslides are expected along the track of the weather disturbance.
PAGASA earlier said they might have to raise the rarely-used signal number 4, meaning that the typhoon has very strong winds, powerful enough to uproot large trees, topple electric posts and tear off roofs from houses.The weather bureau also said this might be the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year. It is forecast to be stronger than Typhoon Pablo, which killed more than a thousand people in parts of Mindanao and Visayas last year.
Forced evacuation was implemented last night in coastal towns in Tacloban City in anticipation of the typhoon, ABS-CBN's Sharon Evite reported.
ABS-CBN's Thea Omelan meanwhile said Albay Governor Joey Salceda earlier advised residents to move to and take shelter in bigger houses that could withstand the winds the typhoon is expected to bring.
The provinces of Cebu, Leyte and Bohol previously announced class suspensions in all levels on Nov. 7 and 8 due to the weather disturbance.
This typhoon will be the 24th storm to hit the Philippines this year
READ MORE: Storm signal number 4 looms in Visayas
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