Super typhoon 'Saola' briefly weakened into a typhoon over the Philippine Sea, with the Southeast Asian nation's weather bureau expecting it to make landfall Wednesday before heading to southern Taiwan.
Saola may weaken further in the next 12 hours "due to upwelling of cooler ocean waters and onset of dry air intrusion before re-intensifying as it turns northwestward," the Philippine weather bureau, known as Pagasa, said in an advisory Monday.
"It may be upgraded again to super typhoon category by mid tomorrow," Pagasa said, adding that it may pass close to the Philippine island province of Batanes at or near its peak intensity. Saola will likely move away from the Philippines Thursday morning or afternoon and cross the Taiwan Strait before making landfall over southeastern China on Friday evening or early Saturday, it said.
Over the weekend, the Philippine provinces of Isabela and eastern parts of Cagayan and Quirino experienced heavy rainfall. Saola enhanced the Southwest Monsoon, and is expected to bring occasional or monsoon rains to other parts of the country over the next three days.
Cagayan and Isabela, along with Ilocos Sur, were among the areas hit by super typhoon Doksuri in July. Half a million people were affected and 14 died. The storm destroyed more than 1.3 billion pesos ($23 million) of agricultural crops and caused about 2.66 billion pesos of damage to infrastructure.
Saola is moving east southeastward with maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour (109 miles per hour) near the center and gusts of up to 215 kilometers per hour, Pagasa said. The eye is 210 kilometers east Casiguran town in Aurora, a province east of Luzon.
Saola is forecast to turn generally northeastward and northward today, then generally northwestward Tuesday to the Bashi Channel and vicinity of Batanes, with landfall not ruled out as it makes a close approach between Wednesday morning and evening, Pagasa said.
The Philippines has an average of 20 tropical cyclones a year, making it one of the world's worst-hit countries, according to Pagasa. Saola is the seventh tropical cyclone to reach the country so far this year.