The Philippines raised the storm alert for two northern provinces to its highest level as authorities moved people to safer ground, canceled work and suspended flights before Super Typhoon Haima is due to make landfall as soon as Wednesday night.
Haima is a Category 5 storm that is packing maximum winds of 140 knots (259.3 kilometers per hour) and gusts of up to 170 knots, according to the latest bulletin from the U.S. Navy and Air Force’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The storm is expected to reach land either in Cagayan or Isabela province late Wednesday or early Thursday, the Philippine weather bureau said in its 2 p.m. report. Moderate to heavy rain is expected within its 800-kilometer diameter.
Authorities are forcing people to evacuate in Cagayan and Ilocos Norte provinces, GMA Network reported, citing officials. Eight local flights had been canceled as of 2 p.m. Manila time, airport authorities said. School classes were suspended in nine provinces, while more than 500 passengers are stranded in various ports. Lower level alerts have been raised in more than 20 other provinces.
Haima, the second storm to hit the Philippines’ main Luzon island in a week, may have a “high humanitarian impact” and could affect as many as 11.6 million people, according to the United Nations Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. Named after a seahorse in China, the storm threatens to bring storm-surge flooding, damaging winds and possible landslides in the Philippines’ main Luzon island, The Weather Channel reported.
The Philippines, battered annually by an average of 20 cyclones that form over the Pacific Ocean, is among countries most vulnerable to climate change, according to risk analysis company Verisk Maplecroft. Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in the world to hit land, killed more than 6,000 people in November 2013 and left more than a thousand missing.
Haima will remain a “violent tropical system” as it approaches China and may impact Hong Kong, Accuweather said. The storm is expected to enter the northern part of the South China Sea on Thursday, edging close to the coast of Guangdong on Oct. 21, the Hong Kong Observatory said.
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