Bigger, stronger and faster than Florence: Super typhoon Mangkhut heads for Philippines at 280km/h

Countries across south-east Asia are issuing emergency alerts and thousands are being evacuated as two typhoons barrel down on the region.

Around 12,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying parts of China’s Guangdong province and shipping halted ahead of the arrival of Typhoon Barijat Thursday.

But the real concern is Super Typhoon Mangkhut, which is still gathering strength as it nears the northern Philippines.

Super Typhoon Mangkhut churns west towards the Philippines having already taken out power in Guam.

Super Typhoon Mangkhut churns west towards the Philippines having already taken out power in Guam.

The scale of Mangkhut to Florence is apparent in these CNN storm graphics.

The scale of Mangkhut to Florence is apparent in these CNN storm graphics.

The storm is expected to make landfall in Cagayan province, on Luzon island, on Saturday.

Right now, it is about 450km/h away in the Pacific, having already torn through Guam and the Marshall Islands, causing widespread flooding and power loss, with parts of Guam still without electricity.

Wind speeds have been recorded up to 285 kilometres per hour, equivalent to a Category 5 Hurricane and stronger than Hurricane Florence which is currently lashing the east coast of the US. Currently, there are sustained winds of 205km/h, gusting to 255km/h. 

A member of the Philippine Air Force stands in front of a satellite image of Typhoon Mangkhut, locally named Typhoon Ompong, at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council operations centre in Manila.

A member of the Philippine Air Force stands in front of a satellite image of Typhoon Mangkhut, locally named Typhoon Ompong, at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council operations centre in Manila.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at an emergency meeting.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at an emergency meeting.

The eye of the storm is 125km wide.

“All things being equal, Mangkhut is a bigger, stronger and more dangerous storm” than Florence, said CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller.

“Any land hit directly would see more significant and destructive impacts from the Super Typhoon due to its size and intensity.”

A work truck drives on Hwy 24 as the wind from Hurricane Florence blows palm trees in Swansboro North Carolina.

A work truck drives on Hwy 24 as the wind from Hurricane Florence blows palm trees in Swansboro North Carolina.

However, he added that the extent of the destruction caused by a hurricane or typhoon depends on what it hits, and the US east coast is “much more populated with significantly more infrastructure to damage”.

“Therefore Florence will almost certainly be a more ‘damaging hurricane’ — but Mangkhut presents a more serious threat to life considering it will hit with stronger winds, over a larger area, and have higher storm surge,” Miller said.

Sixteen provinces across Luzon and the Visayas Islands have issued tropical cyclone warnings for Mangkhut — known as Ompong locally — with the threat level expected to rise, according the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte held a meeting of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council yesterday.

Heavy cloud fills the sky above Manila, which is in the north of the Philippines - the area likely to be worst affected.

Heavy cloud fills the sky above Manila, which is in the north of the Philippines - the area likely to be worst affected.

Rescue crews practice drills ahead of the typhoon which is set to make landfall tomorrow.

Rescue crews practice drills ahead of the typhoon which is set to make landfall tomorrow.

Schools have been closed and bulldozers are at the ready to deal with landslides.

Mangkhut is currently on track to be as strong as Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 6,000 people dead in the Philippines in 2013, though that storm hit a more populated part of the country.

Residents on a makeshift boat make for safer areas of the capital Manila.

Residents on a makeshift boat make for safer areas of the capital Manila.

Northern Luzon was also devastated in 2016 by Super Typhoon Haima — known as Lawin locally — with 14,000 houses destroyed and 50,000 homes damaged.

The Red Cross said it had put teams on the highest level of alert across the island, warning that high winds and torrential rains could cause widespread damage to islands and coastal areas of Luzon.

“We’re worried for the 10 million people in the Philippines living in the path of this destructive storm, including those who have been displaced several times due to the monsoon rains last July and August,” Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippines Red Cross, said in a statement.

“We are preparing our emergency assets and relief items. Our staff and volunteers are on high alert for possible deployment.”

Mangkhut could be the strongest storm to hit Hong Kong in 60 years.

Mangkhut could be the strongest storm to hit Hong Kong in 60 years.

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System said it expected a “high humanitarian impact based on the storm strength and the affected population in the past and forecasted path.”

The worst of the storm, however, could be borne by Hong Kong and Macau which are currently in the storm’s path. It could be the strongest storm to hit the islans in six decades, on existing projections.

Mangkhut by the numbers

285 – kilometres per hour. Recorded on Wednesday, making Mangkhut the strongest storm of 2018.

270 – kilometres. Distance typhoon-force winds stretch (the distance between Paris and Brussels).

30 – million. Number of people expected to face tropical storm-force winds on the Philippines island of Luzon.

4 million. Number of people directly in path of most destructive winds in northern Luzon.

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018

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