Philippines Braces for Typhoon Haiyan, Places 9 Regions Under Blue Alert, Likely to Develop into Category 4 Hurricane, Bohol Under Red Alert

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | November 6, 2013 12:29 PM EST

The State Hermitage Museum is seen through waves during strong storm winds and rain in central St. Petersburg October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk (RUSSIA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT TRAVEL)

The Philippines has placed nine regions, including recently quake-devastated Bohol province, under blue alert as it braces for the wrath of Typhoon Haiyan, which is expected to develop into a Category 4 hurricane even before it makes landfall on the country on Friday morning.

The nine regions under blue alert include Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Central, Eastern and Western Visayas, Bicol region, Southern Tagalog region, and Metro Manila. Bohol, hit by a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake in the middle of October that killed more than 200 people, is under red alert. It is located in the Central Visayas region

"This weather disturbance is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility on Thursday morning. It will not affect any part of the country within the next 36 hours," the Philippine, Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) forecasts Haiyan will hit super typhoon category status before making landfall.

PAGASA told radio station dzRH on Wednesday the approaching super typhoon may raise storm signal no. 4 in Bicol and the Visayas.

A storm classified with signal no. 4 strength has "very strong winds of more than 185 kilometers per hour for at least 12 hours." As such, its possible effects include:

  • Extensive damage to coconut plantations.
  • Uprooting of many large trees.
  • Severe losses for rice and corn plantations.
  • Severe damage to most residences and buildings of mixed construction.
  • Severe disruption of electrical power distribution and communication services.
  • Heavy overall damage to affected communities.

Typhoon Haiyan will be accompanied by damaging winds and widespread torrential rain, possibly leaving massive destruction to lives, infrastructure and livestock. Life-threatening flash floods is likewise highly possible.

Yumi Yoshida, 45, a survivor of a landslide caused by Typhoon Wipha, stands over the debris where she emerged, in Izu Oshima island, south of Tokyo October 17, 2013. The typhoon killed 17 people in Japan on Wednesday, most on an offshore island, but largely spared the capital and caused no new disaster as it brushed by the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power station, the plant's operator said. REUTERS/Yuya Shino (JAPAN - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

"Haiyan will rival Utor as the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year," Eric Wanenchak, meteorologist from AccuWeather.com, said.

The Philippines has received three typhoon-strength storms in 2013, namely Nari, Utor and Krosa. These three crossed the Philippines via Luzon. Haiyan, meantime, is headed toward the central Philippines.

Haiyan will be given the local name Yolanda once it enters the Philippine area of responsibility, expected on Thursday morning. It is forecast to make landfall on Friday afternoon over the Leyte-Samar area.

AccuWeather.com reported Haiyan's rainfall could reach as much as 200 mm (8 inches). Meteorologists warned mudslides in the higher terrain are highly possible.

Residents along the eastern coast of southern Luzon and Samar islands are being advised to brace for a possible and "severe and inundating storm surge."

"Haiyan will likely be the most dangerous tropical cyclone to affect the Philippines this year," Jeff Masters, meteorologist from Wunderground, said. "This is particularly true since Tropical Depression Thirty dumped heavy rains over the central Philippines Monday, which helped saturate the soils."

Authorities in earthquake stricken Bohol are now racing against time to put in place necessary measures to ensure the lives of its residents.

"The provincial government is rushing the distribution of additional tents and other relief goods for those who are still staying in open spaces in makeshift tents," Tootsie Escobia, spokesman of the Bohol provincial government, was quoted by local newspaper Philippine Star.

"All municipal mayors are under orders to conduct preemptive evacuation of residents still staying near river banks and mountain slopes as the rains could trigger landslides and flooding," Mr Escobia added.

Bohol has been slapped with heavy rains from another weather disturbance, Tropical Storm Wilma, since Monday. It has already flooded several evacuation centers.

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