Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Sur will be the first provinces to experience the full force of the world’s strongest storm this year, as Typhoon “Rolly” (international name: Goni) barreled toward eastern Luzon on Saturday with maximum sustained winds of up to 215 kilometers per hour.
In its latest severe weather bulletin at 2 p.m., the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the eye of Rolly was forecast to pass over Catanduanes, the Calaguas Islands, and the mainland Camarines provinces on Sunday morning, Nov. 1.
As of 1 a.m., the center of Rolly was 410 km east northeast of Virac, Catanduanes, moving west southwest at 15 km/h. The Halloween howler would be over Quezon Province and the southern part of Aurora province on Sunday afternoon, the state weather bureau added.
PAGASA hoisted storm Signal No. 3 over Catanduanes as it said Rolly would likely remain in its typhoon category with winds of up to 205 km/h by the time it makes landfall. The typhoon would weaken considerably into a severe tropical storm by the time it crosses west across Luzon and over the West Philippine Sea by Monday morning, it added.
Still, the weather bureau warned of violent winds, intense rainfall, and storm surges of more than 3 meters (nine feet) within the storm’s inner eye area, comparable to the hazards kicked up by deadly super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
PAGASA has placed the province of Catanduanes under Signal No. 3. The central and southern portions of Quezon province were under Signal No. 2 along with the Camarines provinces, Albay, Sorsogon, Burias and Ticao Islands, Marinduque and Northern Samar. The rest of Quezon, Masbate, most parts of Luzon, and Samar, Eastern Samar, and Biliran in the Visayas are under Signals No. 1.
The country's disaster response agency is expecting widespread damage from Rolly, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Director Ricardo Jalad said in a virtual briefing on state-run PTV.
“We expect widespread damage even if it does not become a super typhoon. If it reaches typhoon level, we may go as high as Typhoon Signal No. 4 and have wind speeds of 171-220 kph and expect heavy to very heavy damage along its path,” he said.
Jalad said Rolly would be the "strongest storm to hit since Typhoon Yolanda" -- which crushed several areas in the Visayas region, killed over 6,000 people, and destroyed structures across the central islands in November 2013, with reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts still ongoing there.
In response, the Camarines Sur provincial government began forced evacuation of residents in high-risk areas by Saturday afternoon. A day earlier, Gov. Miguel Luis Villafuerte signed Memorandum No. 4 that ordered the evacuation of residents living in houses made of light materials and those in landslide and flood-prone barangays.
The Philippine Coast Guard suspended sea trips in areas on the path of the storm to ensure safety of passengers and fishermen and kept ships anchored in major ports, including in Mindoro, Batangas, Lucena in Quezon, and Manila.