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    Super Typhoon Bopha Slams Southern Philippines

    By By Jim Andrews, AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist
    December 07, 2012, 11:16:18 PM EST

    A potential disaster is unfolding as Super Typhoon Bopha made landfall on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, packing 160-mph winds.

    As of Monday, nearly 8,000 people in the likely path of Bopha had been evacuated from the coast and other low-lying areas, the Australian ABC News website said.

    According to CNN, at least three people have been killed by the storm.

    Local media outlets have been reporting that many people have been injured by flying debris and falling trees.

    Bopha is likely to be the strongest tropical cyclone of 2012 and has the potential to be the southern Philippines' equivalent to Florida's Andrew in 1992.

    Flooding rain along and near the storm's path could spawn mudslides on the nation's rugged southern main island.

    Official estimates of top wind speed reached 160 mph, with gusts near 200 mph with the center just offshore. The storm was making landfall late Monday (Eastern Time) and moving toward the west-northwest at between 15 and 18 mph.

    Winds of this magnitude and a storm moving rapidly inland perpendicular to the coast can bring total destruction and great loss of life, due to storm surge, inland flooding, flying debris and collapsing structures.

    Evacuation efforts were focused on the area of Hinatuan, a coastal town of eastern Hinatuan. Schools were shut and travel at sea was temporarily banned, the ABC said.

    Beyond Mindanao, Bopha, significantly weakened, will continue to threaten damaging winds and flooding rains over the southern Philippines as it tracks towards the South China Sea later Tuesday through Wednesday.

    Sunday, the potentially devastating wrath of Bopha narrowly skirted the island nation of Palau. The national capital, Koror, had top wind gusts of 70 mph as Bopha sidestepped Palau to the south.

    Packing 155-mph at its zenith of power, Bopha held the rank of a "super typhoon," making it a truly rare storm for December. The storm strengthened rapidly late Monday local time, prior to reaching the southern Philippines.

    A super typhoon is defined as a typhoon having highest sustained winds of at least 130 knots, or 150 mph.

    The last December super typhoon was Nanmadol, which briefly held the rank of super typhoon on Dec. 1, 2004. Nanmadol later struck northern Philippines.


    Typhoon Bopha nears the southern Philippines 2030 UTC Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. The storm was over the southern Philippines Sea, between Palau (right) and the island of Mindanao. (NOAA satellite image)

    The name Bopha, pronounced boe-fa, originates from Cambodia and means blossom or flower.

    Meteorologists Alex Sosnowski, Dave Samuhel and Matt Alto contributed to the content of this story.

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