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Typhoon Bopha Danger to Southeast Philippines

December 03, 2012, 4:52:40 AM EST

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Potentially devastating Typhoon Bopha is bearing down for an early Tuesday, local time, landfall on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, packing dangerous 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.

The severe storm could unleash 120-mph winds as it crosses the eastern shore of Mindanao, likely as the strongest tropical cyclone of 2012.

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


Typhoon Bopha shows a bold eye as of 0530 UTC Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. The storm was over the southern Philippines Sea, between Palau (right) and the island of Mindanao. (Joint Typhoon Warning Center)

As of Monday evening, local time, official estimates of top wind speed ranged from 115 to 130 mph, with higher gusts. The storm's eye had closed to within about 200 miles of eastern Mindanao. Estimated movement was towards the west-northwest at between 15 and 18 mph.

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.

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.

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