PAGASA: Higher chance 'Hagupit' will hit Philippines

Louis Bacani - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - There is a higher probability that approaching Typhoon ‘Hagupit’ will hit the Philippines, the state weather bureau warned on Wednesday.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Hagupit was located at 1,543 kilometers east of Davao City at 10 a.m. today

Hagupit is bearing maximum sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gusts of 170 kph. It is still moving west northwest at 30 kph.

In a press briefing before noon, PAGASA forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said Hagupit will enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Thursday and affect Eastern Visayas by Friday or Saturday.

Aurelio said Hagupit, which will be locally named ‘Ruby,’ will be slowing down as it moves closer to the country.

PAGASA is still looking at two scenarios for Hagupit. In a press briefing this afternoon, PAGASA deputy administrator for operations and services Landrico Dalida Jr. said there is now a 75-percent chance that the typhoon will make landfall over Eastern Visayas and a 25-percent chance that it will recurve toward Japan.

Earlier, Aurelio said there was only a 60-percent chance that Hagupit will not spare the Philippine landmass.

"Mas mataas ang tsansa nitong landfall pero hindi nating isasantabi iyong (posibilidad na) magrerecurve," Aurelio said.

If Hagupit does head to the Philippines, Aurelio said, it will likely make its first landfall over Eastern Samar.

The typhoon will head to Japan and miss the Philippines if the high pressure area (HPA), an anti-cyclone system, in the northern hemisphere moves eastward.

Scenario 1: Landfall over Eastern Visayas

In the first scenario, Hagupit will enter the PAR tomorrow at 8 a.m. with winds of 160 kph with gusts of 190 kph.

It will make landfall on Saturday afternoon or evening and generate storm surges of up to 3-4 meters in height.

Hagupit will dump moderate to intense rains over the affected areas especially those along its track.

The rains will trigger flashfloods in low-lying locations and landslides in mountainous areas.

Coastal waters along the eastern seaboard of Southern Luzon, Visayas and Northern Mindanao will be rough to very rough and dangerous to all sea levels.

Scenario 2: Recurve toward Japan

In the second scenario, Hagupit will recurve to the north and will not make landfall.

The typhoon, however, will still affect Eastern Visayas and the Bicol region.

Moderate to occasionally heavy rains will be expected over the eastern sections of Southern Luzon and Visayas.

The coastal waters along the eastern seaboard of Luzon and Visayas will be rough and dangerous to all sea vessels.

Effect to Luzon, Metro Manila

Based on the forecast of the Australian meteorological agency, Aurelio warned that Hagupit could also hit and cross Southern Luzon instead of Eastern Visayas. 

But he said it is unlikely for Hagupit to make landall over Luzon due to the presence of a high pressure area.

"Kasi kapag ganitong buwan ng December, ang track niya, is mababa. Ibig sabihin, ang magiging track niya, tatamaan 'yung Visayas at Mindanao," Aurelio said.

Still, Hagupit could still bring light rains in Metro Manila and Southern Luzon if it makes landfall in the Visayas.

"Malaki 'yung bagyo so malawak ang nasasakupan niya. So, kahit na 'yung sentro, 'yung mata ng bagyo ay nasa bandang Visayas, pero 'yung katawan niya mahahagip ang Southern Luzon," Aurelio said.

Not like Yolanda

Aurelio allayed fears that Hagupit will be as strong as Super Typhoon Yolanda which devastated Eastern Visayas in November 2013.

He noted that Yolanda was packed with maximum sustained winds of 230 kph, compared to Hagupit's winds of 160 kph.

"Gayunpaman, malakas pa rin 'yung hangin. So ang impact niyan, grabe din. Kasa kayang patumbahin ang puno, poste," Aurelio said.

Whether or not Hagupit will be as strong as Yolanda, Aurelio said the approaching typhoon poses danger to the country.

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