Typhoon Hagupit made landfall in the Philippines shortly after 12:00 AM on Sunday, packing winds of 110 MPH as it came ashore. The storm is much weaker than it was a few days ago, but catastrophic flash flooding is likely as Hagupit will take nearly three days to track across the island country before emerging in the South China Sea on Tuesday.
Satellite images show that Hagupit, locally known as "Ruby," is undergoing a weakening trend as it's losing the stellar organization that allowed it to grow into a monster earlier in the week. Hagupit's strength maxed-out on Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 185 MPH, making it one of the most intense tropical cyclones recorded this year.
What Hagupit lacks in "punch"—and that's a very relative term, since the typhoon still has 110 MPH winds—it will more than make up for in very heavy rainfall and a storm surge of up to 15 feet in coastal communities near Hagupit's landfalling eye.
Catastrophic flash floods and mudslides are almost guaranteed through the weekend as Hagupit slowly makes its way west across the country. The storm will produce rainfall rates of up to an inch (or more) an hour, leaving in its wake rainfall totals in excess of a foot in many locations. Communities on the windward side of mountains will face the most danger from the typhoon, as higher terrain creates extra lift that will enhance the rainfall rate, which will create an even greater runoff that will produce worse flooding and mudslides.
ABS-CBN news reports that more than one million people have been evacuated ahead of Hagupit, which is "one of the world's biggest peacetime evacuations," according to a U.N. agency that spoke with the news organization.
The Philippine news network continues:
As the storm barreled in from the Pacific, power was cut across most of the central island of Samar and nearby Leyte province, including Tacloban City, considered ground zero of the devastating super typhoon Haiyan last year.
"The wind is blowing so strongly, it's like it is whirling," Mabel Evardone, an official of the coastal town of Sulat in Eastern Samar, said on local radio. "The waters have risen now."
There was no word of any casualties.
PAGASA is the official weather forecasting bureau for the Philippines, issuing forecasts for Hagupit alongside the Japan Meteorological Agency and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Satellite images for Hagupit and cyclones around the world can be found on NOAA's website.
[Images: NOAA, PAGASA]