Historic and potentially catastrophic Super Typhoon Bopha has made a direct hit on the southern Philippines on Tuesday morning, raising fears the impacts of the storm may be far worse than a much weaker 2011 storm that killed over 1200 people.
The powerful storm made landfall at 3:45 PM EST on Monday, 4:45 AM Tuesday local time.
The Category 5 Super Typhoon has sustained winds of over 161 mph - gusting to 195 mph - and is the most southerly typhoon ever recorded in the Western Pacific. AccuWeather reports it "is expected to bring life-threatening impacts."
Weather Underground co-founder Dr. Jeff Masters writes that the "extremely dangerous" storm "is following a similar track to last year's Tropical Storm Washi, which hit [the southern Philippine island of] Mindanao on December 16, 2011 with 60 mph winds and torrential rains. Washi triggered devastating flooding that killed 1268 people. Washi was merely a tropical storm, and Bopha is likely to hit at Category 4 or 5 strength, making it the strongest typhoon ever recorded in Mindanao."
"The potential destruction of this typhoon is no joke," Philippine President Benigno Aquino said in a national TV address on Monday.
As of Monday afternoon, the storm's center was about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Hinatuan, Suriago del Sur, according to the Phillipine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.
At sea near the storm, waves reached as high as 52 feet, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. On land, the outer bands of the storm had already begun to bring intense rain and high winds to coastal communities, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Government agencies had moved millions of dollars worth of relief supplies into position for quick delivery to storm-hit regions and put emergency crews, the military and hospitals on standby.
The looming threat to Mindanao comes just weeks ahead of the first anniversary of Washi, whose heavy rains set off flash floods in the middle of the night that swept away entire villages.
The Weather Channel reports that Bopha is the strongest typhoon to hit the southern Philippines in 22 years.
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