The current wind speeds of the colossal Pacific typhoon are up to 285 kilometers per hour (180 mph), which is equivalent to a Category 5 Hurricane. The typhoon is even more powerful than Hurricane Florence which is currently barreling through the U.S. East Coast.
As of Thursday afternoon, Mangkhut was spotted 575 km east-northeast of the Philippines with winds reaching speeds up to 255 km/h.
Super Typhoon #Mangkhut is up to 155-knots (Category 5) And is forecast to landfall along mountainous terrain of northeast Luzon, Philippines.
Based on current projections, Hong Kong and Macau will potentially bear the worst of Mangkhut, which could be one of the strongest storms to hit Hong Kong in over six decades.
The typhoon, which has a massive rain band 900 km wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, is expected to bring heavy to intense rains that could set off landslides and flash floods in affected areas.
To prepare, the Hong Kong government convened an interdepartmental meeting on Wednesday. Chaired by the security minister, the meeting discussed contingency measures and the city’s preparedness.
“Representatives from relevant bureaus and departments also reported their preparatory work and contingency plans, particularly on measures in the prevention and handling of flooding, backflow of seawater and emergency plans for high-risk locations,” a government statement read.
According to the South China Morning Post, the Home Affairs Department urged property management companies and residents to take necessary precautions. Local agencies have also been tapped to remind residents to pay attention to the latest weather information.
The agency said the emergency hotline 2835-1473 will be operational upon the issuance of Typhoon Signal No. 1. If the signal is raised to No.3, District Councils would then facilitate 48 temporary shelters. Residents in the low-lying area of Tai O on Lantau Island would be taken to temporary shelters on Saturday.
The Hospital Authority also committed to ensuring that enough doctors and nurses would be available in the city’s 43 public hospitals as part of its “contingency arrangements.”
In the Philippines, the government has issued tropical cyclone warnings for Mangkhut (known as Ompong locally) across sixteen provinces in Luzon and the Visayas Islands.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the powerful typhoon is expected to make landfall on the northern tip of Luzon.
The country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has been on red alert since September 11, with Luzon placed under Signal No. 1 by Thursday, Rappler reports.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte also held a meeting with the council on Thursday to address any additional emergency procedures. Local government units, the AFP, the Philippine National Police, and the Philippine Coast Guard have since been placed on alert to respond to the typhoon.
The Philippine Red Cross had already placed teams on the highest level of alert across the island of Luzon as high winds and torrential rains are expected to cause widespread damage to islands and coastal areas of the region.
“We’re worried for the 10 million people in the Philippines living in the path of this destructive storm, including those who have been displaced several times due to the monsoon rains last July and August,” Philippines Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon said in a statement. “We are preparing our emergency assets and relief items. Our staff and volunteers are on high alert for possible deployment.”
It is estimated that Mangkhut could affect a total of 1,220,000 hectares of rice and corn. According to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, the damage may reduce the country’s rice supply and result in losses of up to 7.9 billion Philippine pesos ($146.2 million).
According to AccuWeather, the typhoon could also potentially reach the southern and eastern coasts of Taiwan.
“In Taiwan, while there could be locally damaging wind in the south, flooding rainfall will be the main threat across eastern and southern areas,” Meteorologist Tony Zartman was quoted as saying. “The more populated areas in western and northern Taiwan are not expected to see significant impacts given our current track.”
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