A very dangerous situation is evolving for the Philippines as Super Typhoon Hagupit will bear down on the nation this weekend. More than 30 million people will be impacted by this cyclone.
Hagupit rapidly strengthened into a super typhoon on Wednesday afternoon and has continued to strengthen through Thursday with sustained winds over 255 kph (160 mph).
This intensity is equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific Ocean.
Hagupit has encountered some increased wind shear as it approaches the Philippines, which will likely lead to weakening of the cyclone; however, it will remain very dangerous with catastrophic damage expected near where it makes landfall.
Wind gusts over 240 kph (150 mph) are expected near landfall in eastern Visayas. Landfall is expected within 100 miles of where Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall last year.
With landfall farther north, the hardest-hit areas by Haiyan will escape the worst tidal surge from Hagupit but will still be severely impacted including the city of Tacloban which was devastated by Haiyan. To make matters worse, some areas are still trying to recover from Haiyan, which will leave them more vulnerable to the impacts of Hagupit.
Even though the strongest winds are expected near where Hagupit makes landfall, wind gusts over 100 mph will be possible across much of eastern Visayas and Bicol. Damaging winds will be possible from central Luzon into Southern Tagalog, Mindoro, western Visayas and central Visayas.
Rainfall will also produce dramatic flooding along the path of Hagupit with 150-300 mm (6-12 inches) falling across much of Visayas as well as southern and eastern Luzon.
This magnitude of rainfall will likely produce widespread flooding along with a heightened risk for mudslides. Mudslides and flooding could result in some areas being cut off from outside aid for several days following this storm, so people living in these areas should acquire any needed supplies to be prepared for this powerful cyclone.
Strong winds and saturated ground will likely also result in numerous downed trees and power lines. Areas hardest hit could be without electricity for a week or longer.
Hagupit will slow its forward speed as it approaches and moves through the Philippines from Saturday into early next week. Due to this slow movement, areas will experience this extreme weather for a long duration, further increasing the damage and impacts of the storm.
While Hagupit will weaken as it moves westward across the Philippines, it will may still be a typhoon when it emerges into the South China Sea to the west of the Philippines next week. The cyclone would then continue westward and could make another landfall with life-threatening impacts in Vietnam late next week.
Another scenario would be that Hagupit weakens significantly over the Philippines and does not maintain tropical cyclone status beyond early next week. Whatever is left of the cyclone would still drift westward across the South China Sea with possible impacts on Vietnam.