MANILA â€“ Typhoon ”Soudelor” (international name) has become the strongest tropical cyclone yet of 2015, but is unlikely to make landfall in the Philippines.
Citing satellite estimates from the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC),Â The Weather ChannelÂ said Soudelor ” has become the strongest tropical cyclone seen anywhere on Earth so far in 2015.”
According to JTWC, which categorizes Soudelor as a super-typhoon, the massive cyclone was packing a 1-minute average maximum sustained winds of 287 kilometers per hour as of 8 a.m. today. This makes Soudelor a Category 5 hurricane.
JTWC projects that Soudelor’s wind strength would go down to 203 kph by the time it reaches Taiwan on August 8.
The forecast track provided by JTWC shows Soudelor heading towards the southwestern islands of Japan, Taiwan, and then China, sparing the Philippines.
Philippine state weather bureau PAGASA earlier said Soudelor may enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on Wednesday, at which point it will be locally named “Hanna.”
The typhoon is not expected to make landfall in the country.
According to PAGASA, Soudelor was spotted 1,995 kilometers east of Luzon, packing 10-minute average maximum sustained winds of 210 kph near the center and gusts of up to 245 kph.
DESTRUCTION IN MARIANAS
A state of emergency has been declared in the Northern Marianas after Soudelor, with winds up to 120 miles per hour (193kph) slammed into the island group leaving a trail of destruction.
Soudelor was Tuesday centered over open waters in the western Pacific and tracking towards Japan’s southwestern Ryuku Islands as well as Taiwan and eastern China.
Nearly 400 people were packed in emergency shelters in the Northern Marianas after the powerful storm ripped roofs off houses and left residents without power, water and wastewater services. There were no deaths reported.
Acting governor Ralph Torres declared a “state of major disaster and significant emergency for the whole commonwealth in the wake of the devastation caused by Typhoon Soudelor”.
Residents have been urged to stay indoors and Torres issued a price freeze order to prevent traders ramping up the price of essential goods and services.
“Iâ€™ve seen multiple primary power poles down; Iâ€™ve seen cars flipped over the road; Iâ€™ve seen lots of torn roofs,” John Hirsh, executive director of the American Red Cross in Saipan, told Pacific Daily News.
Damage is “extensive” across the island and there has been significant damage to public infrastructure, he said.
In Hagatna, on neighbouring Guam, the weather service said winds had increased to 155mph as Soudelor moved out to sea and would further intensify.
Boats were warned to stay away from exposed reefs and beaches because of “hazardous surf” and “life threatening” rip currents. â€“Â with Agence France-Presse