Typhoon Megi Intensifies, Philippines Raises Alert

Typhoon Megi intensified in the Pacific Ocean with winds gusting to as much as 230 kilometers an hour (121 mph) as it heads to make landfall tomorrow morning in northern Luzon in the Philippines.

Megi, known in the Philippines as Juan, may “strengthen further,” said Mario Palafox, senior weather forecaster at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration. “We can call it a super typhoon.”

The center of the typhoon was about 390 kilometers (242 miles) east of Cagayan province in northeastern Luzon, with maximum wind of 195 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 230 kilometers per hour, the administration said on its 4 p.m. advisory posted on its website. It is moving west at 22 kilometers an hour and is forecast to reach Cagayan tomorrow. Public storm warning signals were raised in 17 provinces, including Isabela, Ilocos Norte, Abra and La Union.

Philippines emergency services are on alert and ready to carry out preemptive evacuations today of people in regions that may be hit by the storm, President Benigno Aquino said in a statement posted on his website. “We do not want to unduly alarm the public, but there is nothing lost by being prepared.”

Food packs and medicines have been prepared in provinces that may be hit by the typhoon, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said in an advisory posted on its website. Schools in provinces to be hit by the typhoon will be closed.

National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, which runs the nation’s high-voltage power transmission network, said it has activated command centers at its main and regional offices to take precautions to minimize the impact of the typhoon.

Stronger Winds

Winds may strengthen to 250 kph as the storm nears Luzon, the country’s most populous island, the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center said Oct. 15. That would make it a Category 5 storm, the strongest, on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind scale and capable of “catastrophic damage,” according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Aquino said local authorities have been instructed to take down billboards until the typhoon is over as part of efforts to try to avoid casualties.

Typhoon Conson left 102 people dead in the Philippines in July and destroyed or damaged more than 70,000 homes, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said in August.

The government has advised fishing boats and small vessels not to venture out to sea and alerted larger ships against the risk of waves of as high as 4.5 meters. Megi is forecast to leave the Philippines on Oct. 19, heading northwest toward Hainan, China.

Megi is the name of a catfish in South Korea and is related to the feeling of getting wet, according to the Hong Kong Observatory, which lists names assigned to storms in the northwest Pacific. It is the 15th storm of the season.

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