More Than One Million Evacuated as Deadly Hagupit Lashes Philippines
By By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
December 11, 2014, 5:47:49 AM EST
A very dangerous situation is continuing to unfold in the Philippines as Hagupit, locally known as Ruby, continues to impact the nation. More than 30 million people have already been impacted by this cyclone.
As many as 24 people died due to the typhoon, now a tropical storm, government and disaster relief officials said.
Twenty-one of those people died in Borongan, Samar, according to the Philippine Red Cross.
Earlier updates from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said there were two other deaths as a result of Hagupit and that more than 1 million people are being served inside and outside of evacuation centers.
Hagupit made landfall in the province of Eastern Samar, just to the north of where Haiyan made landfall last year. Since landfall, Hagupit has continued a gradual weakening trend, but it remains a very dangerous system.
Hagupit was downgraded from a typhoon to a tropical storm on Sunday evening, but continued to impact the Philippines with windswept rain.
With landfall farther north, the areas hardest-hit by Haiyan escaped the worst tidal surge from Hagupit but were still impacted by heavy rainfall; this includes the city of Tacloban which was devastated by Haiyan. Many other areas are still trying to recover from Haiyan, leaving them more vulnerable to the impacts of Hagupit.
The system is moving away from the Philippines which is good news. However, it is doing so in a slow fashion which is prolonging the dangers for parts of the nation. The north-central Philippines continue to experience heavy rainfall and locally damaging winds, which is further increasing the overall damage and impacts of the storm.
Despite passing to the south of Manila, the city will still see bands of heavy rainfall and gusty thunderstorms, though significant damage is not expected in the city due the weakening of the cyclone as it pulls away from the Philippines.
Rainfall has already produced dramatic flooding along the path of Hagupit with 150-300 mm (6-12 inches) falling across much of Visayas as well as southern and eastern Luzon and Mindoro.
"Some places are likely to have over 20 inches of rainfall because of the slow nature of the storm," said AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Matthew Rinde.
As of Sunday evening, local time, rainfall had surpassed 400 mm (16 inches) in Borongan and 350 mm (14 inches) in Catbalogan. Both cities are located on Samar Island where Hagupit made landfall.
This magnitude of rainfall has already produced widespread flooding and mudslides. This danger still threatens the nation due to the slow movement of Hagupit's heavy rain. Mudslides and flooding could result in some areas being cut off from outside aid for several days following this storm. Several road ways have already been closed due to flooding, landslides, and downed trees and powerlines.
Strong winds and saturated ground have already resulted in numerous downed trees and power lines. Power remained out in at least 17 provinces as of Monday evening, local time. Areas hardest hit could be without electricity for a week or longer.
Hagupit is also responsible for hundreds of sea vessels being stranded in ports, while several hundred flights were cancelled from various airports across the Philippines.
While Hagupit has weakened into a tropical storm, it is still an organized tropical system as it churns to the west of the Philippines. The cyclone will continue westward and could make another landfall with life-threatening impacts in Vietnam late this week.
Prior to its landfall in Vietnam, Hagupit is not expected to restrengthen into a typhoon, making it a much weaker storm than it was when it hit the Philippines. Before landfall in the Philippines, Hagupit strengthened into a super typhoon with sustained winds over 241 kph (150 mph), the equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific Ocean.
Although the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) website was down due to technical problems on Thursday, it is now up and running.
AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Courtney Spamer, Jordan Root, and Adam Douty contributed content to this story.
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