Super Typhoon Moving Towards Surigao Del Sur

MANILA, Philippines --- The typhoon east of Southern Mindanao further intensified as it moved closer to the country on Sunday, the state weather agency said.

Typhoon ''Bopha'' was packing maximum sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 220 kph on Sunday morning.

The US-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) categorized ''Bopha'' as a ''super typhoon'' on Sunday. The weather agency classifies a typhoon with winds of more than 215 kph as ''super typhoon.''

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) located the eye of typhoon ''Bopha'' at 1,110 km east-southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur.

The tropical cyclone remained outside the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) Sunday morning but was expected to enter the country's territory by Sunday evening and would be locally named ''Pablo.''

It is moving relatively fast west-northwest at 22 kph.

Typhoon ''Bopha'' is expected at 660 km east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur by Monday morning. By Tuesday morning, it will be at 140 km east-northeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur or 230 km east-southeast of Surigao City and 60 km north of Dumaguete City by Wednesday morning.

PAGASA warned that the typhoon has a huge diameter of 700 km that may bring 20 to 30 millimeters per hour of heavy to intense rains within the cyclone's cloud cover.

According to PAGASA weather forecaster Jori Loiz, the typhoon will likely make landfall over Northeastern Mindanao, near the vicinity of Surigao City, by Tuesday.

As early as Monday, the advancing clouds of the typhoon will begin to bring rains over Eastern Visayas and Eastern Mindanao, and will move through the Mindoro-Palawan area, he explained.

He warned residents in areas such as Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Leyte, Cebu, Romblon, Negros, Panay Island, Misamis Oriental, and Misamis Occidental to brace for heavy rains.

Meanwhile, government disaster management agencies and the Philippine Navy (PN) are now on alert for the possible effects of typhoon ''Pablo.''

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos said the typhoon was expected to enter the PAR around 8 p.m. Sunday.

Among the areas expected to be affected by the typhoon are Surigao City, Siargao, Dinagat, Bohol, Northern Cebu, Northern Negros, Iloilo, Aklan, Antique, Panay, Capiz.

''Dederetso sa Mindoro at Busuanga, then papunta na sa West Philippine Sea,'' he added.

Rains are also expected in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon.

As government authorities take appropriate actions in preparation for the typhoon, the NDRRMC operations center was placed on red alert to monitor and disseminate severe weather bulletin to all Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional centers

The NDRRMC also said all concerned agencies, particularly in the Bicol region and areas of Mindanao, have begun to preposition relief supplies.

The Bicol DRRMC was likewise scheduled to conduct aerial assessment of Mayon Volcano's crater and related river channels to inspect possible lahar flow.

''Relief supplies are pre-positioned, weather updates are continuously disseminated, appropriate preparations are conducted by LGUs (local government units), and the public is advised to make appropriate adjustment in their travel plans between December 3 to 7, 2012,'' the NDRRMC said.

In the Visayas and Mindanao, local disaster councils have likewise conducted a conference to prepare for ''Pablo.''

Meanwhile, Navy spokesman Col. Omar Tonsay said the PN headquarters on Roxas Boulevard in Manila has issued a directive to place all its disaster response task units (DRTUs) on standby alert.

Naval forces in parts of the country expected to be affected by ''Pablo'' were also told to place their major naval assets on standby for possible deployment.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also directed all the agency's units to brace for the upcoming onslaught which will be brought by the super typhoon.

Rear Admiral Luis Tuason Jr., Coast Guard officer-in-charge and vice commandant for operations, said he placed all Coast Guard units which will be directly affected by the weather disturbance on heightened alert.

Tuason said the district commanders in the affected areas should coordinate with their counterparts in the Regional Disaster Risk and Management Council for rendering assistance and rescue mission.

Also, operators of small vessels, motor bancas and fishing boats were advised by PCG to avoid sailing in the southeastern and eastern section of the country where sea condition is rough.

He said all shipping vessels are not permitted to travel once a Public Storm Warning Signal is already hoisted by PAGASA in the affected areas.

Director General Nicanor Bartolome, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), mobilized all police units for relief and rescue missions in the areas that are expected to be pounded by typhoon ''Pablo.'' (With reports from Elena L. Aben, Aaron Recuenco, and Raymund F. Antonio)