Super Typhoon Noru stormed the Philippines on Sunday, ravaging the densely populated main island of Luzon with high winds and torrential rain, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers (121 miles) per hour as it headed toward the archipelago after an unprecedented “explosive intensification,” the state’s weather forecaster said.
Noru, the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year, arrived at 5:30 PM (0930 GMT) in the municipality of Burdeos in the Polillo Islands, part of Quezon province.
Videos posted to social media and verified by AFP showed trees swaying wildly as wind and rain swept across the islands.
“We ask residents living in danger zones to abide by the calls for evacuation when necessary,” said General Rodolfo Azurin, chief of the Philippine National Police.
The Philippines is regularly ravaged by storms, with scientists warning that they will become more powerful as the world warms due to climate change.
“The wind was blowing hard this morning,” said Ernesto Portillo, 30, who works as a cook in the coastal town of Infanta in Quezon.
“We’re a little worried… We’ve secured our stuff and ran some errands so we have food just in case.”
The meteorological agency said the storm’s wind speeds had increased by 90 kilometers per hour in 24 hours.
“Typhoons are like engines — you need fuel and an exhaust to function,” said weather forecaster Robb Gile.
“In Karding’s case it has good fuel because it has a lot of hot water along its trajectory and then there is a good exhaust in the upper level of the atmosphere – so it’s a good recipe for explosive intensification,” he added . , using the local name for the storm.
The storm hit about 100 kilometers northeast of Manila. Emergency services are bracing for the possibility of high winds and heavy rains to ravage the capital, which is home to more than 13 million people.
Forced evacuations were underway in some high-risk areas of the metropolis, including impoverished communities living in flimsy shacks along rivers.
Gloria Perez, 68, was part of a group sheltering in modular tents set up on an indoor basketball court.
“I have evacuated the house where I live because I am afraid, the flooding there is going to be very high,” Perez told AFP.
“I don’t want a repeat of what happened to me before.”
Silence before the storm
Noru came nine months after a new super typhoon devastated parts of the country, killing more than 400 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
More than 4,600 people fled their homes before the latest storm hit, including residents of several Quezon municipalities, disaster officials said.
In the neighboring province of Aurora, residents of the Dingalan Municipality had to seek shelter.
“People who live near the coast have been told to evacuate. We live far from the coast, so we’re staying where we are so far. We’re more concerned about the water from the mountains,” he said. says Rhea Tan, 54, a restaurant manager in Dingalaan.
Noru is expected to weaken to a typhoon as it rages over central Luzon before entering the South China Sea on Monday and heading for Vietnam.
The weather bureau has warned of dangerous storm surges more than ten feet high along the coast of Aurora and Quezon, including the Polillo Islands, along with widespread flooding and landslides as the storm dumps heavy rain.
It could topple coconut and mango trees and cause “serious losses” to rice and maize crops in the heavily agricultural region, while flooding villages.
The Coast Guard reported that more than 2,500 people were stranded due to ferry cancellations as ships sheltered from the storm.
Dozens of flights to and from Manila were also cancelled.
School classes and non-essential government services have been suspended for Monday.
The Philippines — ranked among the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change — is hit by an average of 20 storms each year.