Weather expert Daniel Wu (吳德榮) told CNA today that Super Typhoon Mangkhut is the strongest storm seen on the surface of the Earth this year, even surpassing Florence, which is a category 4 hurricane, in terms of power.
Typhoon Mangkhut, which has already blasted through the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, is speeding across the Pacific with winds that can gust as high as 255 kilometres (160 miles) per hour.
With the predicted path of the typhoon, it could also hit Taiwan and Hong Kong next.
Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba said by telephone that evacuations of residents from risky coastal villages and island municipalities north of the rice-and corn-producing province of 1.2 million people have started and classes at all levels have been cancelled.
Super Typhoon Mangkhut, known as Super Typhoon Ompong in the Philippines, is now equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane, with winds of at least 252 kilometers per hour (157 mph), stronger than Florence, which is expected to cause massive flooding and devastation in the Carolinas.
According to the Philippine Star, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration defines a "super typhoon" as a typhoon with "maximum sustained winds of 220 kilometers per hour". About 80 per cent of the U.S. territory was without power but it was restored by Thursday morning.
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Luzon was devastated by Super Typhoon Haima - known as Lawin locally - in 2016, with 14,000 houses destroyed and 50,000 homes damaged, according to CNN Philippines. "This is more complicated because of possible storm surges", Mamba said on September 12. Typhoon Haiyan left more than 7,300 people dead or missing and displaced over 5 million in the central Philippines in 2013.
Schools and offices are being closed and farmers are racing to save crops.
President Rodrigo Duterte adjusted his schedule on Thursday so he can lead the command conference on the government's preparation for Typhoon Ompong.
Officials said other northern provinces started evacuating residents Thursday from high-risk areas, including in northern mountain provinces prone to landslides.
Hong Kong had been bracing for a direct hit on September 12, but the typhoon warning was cancelled the morning of September 13, the Hong Kong Observatory announced, as forecasts tracked Mangkhut's path further south.
The storm approaches the Phillipines as hurricane Florence will make landfall on the south-east coast of the USA later this week.