Officials warn of 'Yolanda-type' disasters as 'Mangkhut' nears PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 11) — A rainy weekend awaits residents in northern Luzon, Western Visayas and Mindanao as typhoon "Mangkhut" approaches the country, weather officials reported Tuesday.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said it expects northern Luzon to be the most affected area as Mangkhut is predicted to arrive in the country Wednesday and to traverse Cagayan to Batanes on Saturday. 

PAGASA said it may raise a tropical cyclone warning signal number 1 over Cagayan as early as Wednesday evening.

Mangkhut will also enhance the southwest monsoon and bring scattered light to moderate rains and thunderstorms to the Zamboanga Peninsula, Western Visayas and Palawan on Thursday.

PAGASA also clarified that Mangkhut is not a super typhoon. It defines a super typhoon as a weather disturbance with more than 220 kilometers per hour (kph) maximum center winds. Mangkhut, as of 3:00 p.m. Monday, has a maximum center wind strength of 185 kph and gustiness of 225 kph.

In its 5:00 p.m. update, the weather bureau said Mangkhut was seen at 1,650 kilometers east of southern Luzon. It is moving 30 kph westwards.

Weather officials have not yet predicted that Mangkhut will reach super typhoon status. They expect Mangkhut to have maximum center winds of 210 kph and gusts of 260 kph upon entry in the country. It will eventually weaken to 205 kph in maximum center winds and 255 kph in gusts when it reaches northern Luzon.

Officials, however, warned of possible disasters as strong as those that occurred when Typhoon Yolanda hit the southern region of the country in 2013.

"This is a pretty nasty typhoon to put it candidly, and wag na nating subukan (let's not try it)," Edgar Posadas, spokesperson of the NDRRMC, said.

Disaster response agencies are set to meet on Wednesday to lay out a concrete plan ahead of a potential landfall later this week.

While it is still too early to predict Mangkhut's exact path, officials said people from the northernmost areas in Luzon should gear for a major hit.

Mangkhut is expected to have a widespread effect, as it is forecast to have a diameter of about 600 kilometers.

"So kung magla-land fall daw at the northern most tip ng northern Luzon, apektado hanggang central Luzon, and yung outer bands nya, posibleng hanggang Metro Manila," Posadas said.

(Translation: If it makes landfall at the northern most tip of northern Luzon, affected areas will include central Luzon and its outer bands, possibly reaching Metro Manila.)

Meanwhile, tropical depression "Neneng" left Philippine territory but rains are still expected in the Ilocos provinces, Cordillera region and Cagayan valley. The tropical cyclone warning signal number 1 issued over Batanes has also been lifted.

This is a developing story.