Typhoon Sarika hits the Philippines

The country is being battered by damaging winds, torrential rain and a dangerous storm surge.

Philippines prepares for typhoon
Workers remove tarpaulin advertisements in preparation of the storm. [Francis R Malasig/EPA]

Typhoon Sarika is continuing to strengthen as it begins to batter the Philippines.

The storm, known locally as Karen, is expected to make landfall in Luzon around 18:00 GMT, which is 2am local time.

The outer fringes of the storm are already covering much of the central Philippines, with many places seeing rain.

The centre of the system, where the strongest winds and the heaviest rains are located, is passing very close to Catanduanes and Camarines in the Bicol region.

Daet in Camarines Norte has reported 224mm of rain in the last 24 hours and rain is still falling. A little further south, the city of Legaspi reported 139mm of rain in the same period.

The typhoon is creeping along at only 13 kilometres per hour and is still strengthening. By the time it makes landfall in the Aurora province, the sustained winds are forecast to be 185km/h.

This would make the storm the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane, on the five-point Saffir-Simpson Scale used to rate the strength of hurricanes in the waters around the Americas.

Winds of this strength will cause significant damage, tearing down trees and powerlines and causing damage to even well-built homes.

However, greater threats are likely to be the storm surge and the amount of rain.

The storm surge could be as much as seven metres above normal tide levels, which would cause a major coastal inundation.

At the same time, there could be as much as 500mm of rain in places, which would cause severe flooding could potentially trigger a number of landslides.

The typhoon is expected to weaken as it crosses the mountainous terrain of Luzon, before it crosses the South China Sea.

Once over the warm waters of the sea, Sarika is expected to strengthen once more.

The storm will then set its sights on Hainan and Vietnam, where it is forecast to hit in three or four days’ time.

Source: Al Jazeera