Thousands flee as category 5 typhoon Bopha approaches Philippines

Added by on December 3, 2012

Typhoon Bopha approaches the Philippines with winds exceeding 257 kmh; map credit – Weather Underground.

Typhoon Bopha, the most southern typhoon in history, is expected to arrive at Mindanao, the eastern-most island in the Philippines, on Tuesday morning, local time.

Note: Typhoon Bopha is also referred to as “Pablo”

Bopha, located just 3.6 degrees north of the equator, is reported to have wind speeds exceeding 257 kph, the equivalent of a category hurricane – the strongest type hurricane category 5 hurricanes have winds greater than 250 kph.

“Tropical cyclones rarely form close to the equator since they cannot get themselves spinning by leveraging the rotation of the Earth,” explained a meteorologist.

The previous most southerly typhoon was Kate of October 1970, which reached typhoon intensity at 4.3 degrees north. Another storm, Cyclone Agni of 2004 formed at 0.7 degrees north and crossed into the souther hemisphere reaching 0.5 degrees south; however, the storm had not organized into a cyclone while it was so close to the equator.

President Benigno Aquino said,Bopha’s “…destructive potential is no laughing matter. It is expected to be the strongest typhoon to hit our country in 2012. This would bring intense rainfall”

President Aquino urged Filipinos within the storm’s forecasted track to monitor the government’s hourly bulletins and to follow official directions and warning.

Blanche Gobenciong, regional director of the civil defence office in the area said 7,885 Hinatuan residents had been moved from the east coast fishing village to shelters and schools have been closed all along the east coast. Millions of people are within the storm’s forecast track.

The storm is forecast to continue northwest across the Philippine islands.

Officials fear rain could trigger landslides and have deployed the coast guard and military along with food supplies and rescue equipment to areas that may be affected.

Due to the lack of spin so close to the equator, Bopha took four days to organize and intensify into a small typhoon.

Bopha grazed Palau, causing widespread power outages and downed trees. Meteorologists credit the lack of damage to the storm’s relatively fast movement.

Bopha us currently located approximately 1,100 km southeast of Manila.