Weather bureau PAGASA expects ‘Soudelor’, the Earth’s most powerful storm of the year so far, to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) tomorrow.
Based on the latest weather bulletin issued by PAGASA, at 4PM today, ‘Soudelor’ was located at 1720 kilometers east of Luzon with maximum sustained winds of 215kph near the center and gustiness of up to 250kph. It is forecast to move west northwest at 20kph.
‘Soudelor’, the eighth tropical storm to affect the country, will be locally named “Hanna” once it enters PAR. It is now the strongest tropical cyclone since super typhoon “Hagupit” in December 2014 which peaked at 215kph.
Based on the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), Soudelor is now a Category 5 hurricane. JTWC forecast track shows that Soudelor is heading towards the southwestern islands of Japan, Taiwan, and eastern China later this week.
PAGASA said Soudelor will not directly affect the Philippines and is not expected to make landfall in the country but it will enhance the southwest monsoon or ‘Habagat’ that will bring light to moderate rains over certain parts of the country including Palawan, Southern Visayas and Mindanao until Friday.
According to reports, Soudelor is already causing severe damage in Saipan, one of the Northern Mariana Islands, prompting local authorities to declare a state of disaster and significant emergency. High winds downed power poles, removed roofs off buildings and flooded Saipan’s power plant. About 350 people were in emergency shelters, as of Monday morning, the Pacific Daily News reported.
Soudelor underwent rapid intensification on Monday and has become the strongest tropical cyclone seen on Earth so far in 2015.
Experts say there is a possibility that Soudelor could boost the El Nino phenomenon in the central and eastern Pacific.