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PAGASA: 'Yolanda' could be strongest typhoon to hit Phl this year

PAGASA's forecast track of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, November 6, 2013.

MANILA, Philippines - Typhoon "Haiyan," which will be locally named "Yolanda," continues to intensify further as it moves closer to the Philippines, the state weather bureau said Wednesday afternoon.

At a televised press briefing, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the typhoon was last observed at 1,221 kilometers east Mindanao as of 4 p.m.

Yolanda is already packing maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 210 kph.

Moving west northwest at 30 kilometers, Yolanda is expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Thursday morning.

"Baka pinakamalakas na bagyo this year na papasok dito sa Philippine Area of Responsibility," said Dr. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator research and development of PAGASA.

Hilario said so far, the 24th typhoon to enter the country this year already has intense rainfall amount of about 30 millimeters per hour.

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The agency said Yolanda may still gain strength since its still over sea.

Yolanda is expected to make landfall over Eastern Visayas or Samar-Leyte area between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday.

Weather forecaster Christopher Perez said storm warning signal no. 1 will be initially raised over Eastern Visayas once Yolanda enters the country.

Robert Sawi, officer-in-charge of the PAGASA weather division, said storm signal no. 4 may be hoisted in some areas if Yolanda's maximum winds reaches more than 185 kph.

These are the Samar provinces, Masbate, Romblon, northern Panay, and Mindoro area.

"Sobrang lakas na ito baka halos wala nang matirang puno sa lugar if ever ganun kataas ang signal," Sawi said.

Yolanda will traverse the Visayas-Mimaropa area and cross the areas of northern Cebu, northern Panay, Masbate, Romblon, Mindoro and northern Palawan.

PAGASA said land, air and sea travel are risky over the said areas from Thursday to Saturday.

Floods and landslides are expected along the track of Yolanda.

Storm surges are also expected in the coastal areas of Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, Eastern Visayas, Dinagat Island and Siargao Island as early as Thursday evening and over the seaboards of Visayas and southern Luzon area by Friday and Saturday morning, respectively.

Occasional rains and gusty winds over the provinces of Catanduanes, Albay and Sorsogon and over Eastern Visayas and northeastern Mindanao beginning Thursday afternoon.

Stormy weather is also expected in the said areas and over the rest of Visayas and the provinces of Masbate, Romblon, Mindoro and northern Palawan on Thursday evening until Saturday morning.

Though international agencies have already classified Yolanda as a super typhoon, PAGASA maintained that it will not yet categorized the tropical cyclone as such.

Read: 'Yolanda' now a super typhoon; may be stronger than 'Pablo' that killed 1000

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