The state weather bureau raised Storm Signal No. 3 over more areas on Saturday afternoon—with the possibility of Signal No. 4 not far behind—as Typhoon Rolly, tagged as the world’s strongest storm this year, moved closer to eastern Luzon.
As of 5 p.m., Signal No. 3 was up over Catanduanes and the northeastern parts of Camarines Sur and Albay p
rovinces as Rolly (international name Goni) drew closer to the Bicol region with maximum sustained winds of up to 215 kilometers per hour and gusts up to 265 km/h.
Ten areas in Luzon and Northern Samar in the Visayas are now under Signal No. 2, while 4 other areas -- including Metro Manila -- are under Signal No. 1, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said in its latest severe weather bulletin.
Classified as a category 5 storm by world meteorologists, 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 4 p.m., the center of Rolly was 345 km east northeast of Virac, Catanduanes, speeding up as it moved west southwest at 25 km/h, up from 15 km/h at 1 p.m.
The Halloween howler would be over Quezon Province and the southern part of Aurora province on Sunday afternoon, the state weather bureau added.
Rolly has one-minute sustained winds of up to 300 km/h, according to the Force Thirteen cyclone tracking group, but PAGASA uses ten-minute sustained wind speeds for its storm categories.
“While Goni (#RollyPH) is near peak intensity, the typhoon could intensify again during the next 12-18 hours before a weakening trend begins as it makes its final approach to Luzon and Bicol in the Philippines,” Force Thirteen said on its YouTube live stream.
In addition, PAGASA was also tracking the international storm “Atsani,” which is on the heels of Goni and would be named “Siony” once it enters the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR).
Atsani is a much weaker storm, with speeds of 55 km/h near the center. It was still 1,655 km east of Luzon outside PAR, moving northwest at 25 km/h.
Rolly will still likely be a major typhoon when making landfall and could still be a super typhoon or category 5 if it moves slightly north of current expectations, the cyclone trackers added.
PAGASA said there was a high risk of storm surge of more than three meters (nine feet) over the northern coastal areas of Quezon including Polillo Islands, Camarines Provinces, and Catanduanes.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) had warned of storm surges of 2.1 to 3 meters high (six to nine feet) in the coasts of Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Batangas and Quezon in text alerts it sent across the country.
Over 200,000 residents across Luzon were forced to evacuate low lying areas and coastlines, as the country's disaster response agency is expecting widespread damage from Rolly.
“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,” NDRRMC Director Ricardo Jalad said in a virtual briefing on state-run PTV.
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.
Malacañang appealed to the public to “stay calm yet vigilant” as Typhoon Rolly stormed closer.
“We ask the public, especially the residents of potential areas that will be affected by the typhoon to stay calm yet vigilant, check the latest government weather advisory, listen to the radio or watch television for more information, secure their house and vehicle, and keep their family members and loved ones dry and safe,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
Roque assured the public that concerned disaster agencies such as the NDRRMC and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are now on standby 24/7 for Rolly.
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.
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