Super Typhoon Megi bearing down on Philippines
Megi is Strongest Tropical Cyclone of 2010 (AccuWeather)
As of this morning, EDT, highest sustained winds about this extremely dangerous storm reached nearly 180 mph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). At the time, the storm's eye was located about 370 miles northeast of Manila, Philippines.Megi is headed for the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela in norther Luzon. Luzon is the most heavily populated island of the country. These two provinces are where the majority of the nations rice is grown. This storm could destroy crops as well as infrastructure as it barrels ashore.
Not only was Megi a "super" typhoon, it also held highest winds well above the minimum threshold (156 mph) for a Category 5 hurricane.
Central pressure about the small, well-marked eye was a low 895 mb, or 26.43 inches of mercury. This compares to the world-wide average sea-level pressure of 1013.5 mb, or 29.93 inches.
Super Typhoon Megi was on track to barrel across the northern end of Luzon, the biggest and most populous island of the Philippines, with potentially catastrophic effect.
Super-typhoon Megi heads for northern Philippines(BBC News)
Thousands of people in the Philippines have fled from their homes ahead of a powerful storm, Super-Typhoon Megi, which is expected to reach the north of the country early on Monday.The government has called for evacuations ahead of the storm. Currently evacuations are voluntary but the government may forcibly remove people from their homes if necessary to prevent casualties. The Typhoon is expected to make landfall Monday morning local time.
Megi, which has winds of up to more than 280km/h (175mph), is then forecast to move towards the South China Sea.
It is the strongest storm the Philippines has faced this year.
In 2006, a storm with winds of 155km/h triggered mudslides, burying villages and killing about 1,000 people.
The northern provinces of Cagayan and Isabela are on the highest storm alert.
Officials are warning of heavy rain and high winds that could damage buildings, power supplies and agriculture.
Emergency services have been stocking up on food and medicines, says the BBC's Kate McGeown in the capital, Manila.
Government forecasters say waves off the east coast could be greater than 14m (46ft). They have warned against travel to the region.
Thousands of soldiers and officers are on standby.
Trucks, rescue boats and food packs have been pre-positioned near vulnerable areas, said Benito Ramos, a senior disaster-response official.
"This is like preparing for war," he told the Associated Press. "We know the past lessons and we're aiming for zero casualties."
Schools in the north will be closed on Monday.
Farmers were being urged to harvest as many of their crops as possible before the typhoon hit, our correspondent says.
The area in the storm's path is one of the country's main rice-growing regions.
Super typhoon roars towards Philippines
Megi could uproot trees, blow away houses made of light material, trigger landslides and cause storm surges in coastal areas, Philippine authorities said as they began evacuating people from vulnerable areas.
It is expected to hit the northern province of Cagayan on Monday, and as of Sunday afternoon was already 450 kilometres east of the area, the state weather bureau said.
The storm was packing maximum winds of 195km/h near the centre and gusts of up to 230km/h, making it a super typhoon, forecasters said.
"Some are still gauging the situation but those who are living in low areas have voluntarily gone to higher ground," said Benito Ramos, head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
He said thousands of people have already temporarily relocated from communities along the Cagayan river system, which had overflowed during previous typhoons.
President Benigno Aquino ordered all government agencies to be on high alert to prevent casualties, while the coastguard was instructed to ban all fishing vessels from setting off to sea in the north.