Philippines threatened by super typhoon Noru
Super Typhoon Noru was en route to the Philippines on Sunday, where it was expected to make landfall on the densely populated island of Luzon, prompting pre-emptive evacuations in coastal cities.
Accompanied by winds of 195 km/h, Noru, known as Karding in the Philippines, is the strongest typhoon recorded in the country this year. It was strengthening at an “unprecedented” rate and was due to make landfall about 80 km northeast of the capital Manila late Sunday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
“We are asking residents of vulnerable areas to heed calls to evacuate if necessary,” said Philippine Police Chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin.
About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year, a phenomenon scientists say is trending toward worsening due to climate change. Nine months ago, another super typhoon killed more than 400 people in the center and south of the country.
A typhoon is designated as a “super typhoon” when its winds exceed a certain speed, with the threshold varying according to national weather services (in the Philippines, this threshold is 185 km/h).
The speed of the winds accompanying Noru increased by 90 km/h in just 24 hours, an “unprecedented” intensification, forecaster Robb Gile estimated.
– “Intensification Explosive” –
“Typhoons are like engines, they need fuel and an exhaust to run,” Gile said.
According to him, Noru “has good fuel because it has a lot of warm water in its path, and it has good exhaust in the upper layers of the atmosphere. It’s a good recipe for an explosive escalation.”
Wind speeds could reach 205 km/h when the Pacific Ocean-born super typhoon makes landfall Sunday evening, according to the weather service.
The service warned of floods, landslides and strong storm surges in affected areas. Schools remain closed on Monday and maritime traffic has been halted.
In Manila, the emergency services were preparing for heavy rain and strong winds in the city of over 13 million people. So far, however, no part of the capital has been evacuated.
“The National Capital Region is ready. We are just waiting and hoping not to be affected,” said Romulo Cabantac, regional director for civil protection.
In Quezon province, which is on Noru’s likely route, residents of several villages have been evacuated, said Mel Avenilla, an official with the local disaster relief bureau.
In neighboring Aurora Province, residents of Dingalan Township have also been taken to emergency shelters.
“People living near the coast have been told to evacuate. We live far from the coast so we stayed. We’re more worried about the water coming out of the mountains,” said Rhea Tan, 54, a restaurateur in Dingalan.
Ms Tan said residents are taking advantage of the still calm weather to secure the roofs of their homes and ferries on higher ground.
“We are even more concerned when the weather is very calm as this is often the start of a powerful typhoon before it makes landfall,” she added.
The typhoon is expected to weaken as it passes over Luzon Island before heading into the South China Sea towards Vietnam on Monday.
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