Super Typhoon Kammuri — which rapidly intensified overnight into a Category 4-equivalent monster — is ravaging parts of the Philippines with 130 mph winds, a potentially destructive storm surge and copious amounts of rainfall.
As of midnight Tuesday local time (or 11 a.m. Monday Eastern), the eye was moving ashore in the Bicol region of Luzon, just west of the San Bernardino Strait. Getting slammed by the northern eyewall at this hour is Legazpi City, home to more than 180,000 people. The northern eyewall is the most destructive and dangerous part of the storm.
Josh Morgerman, who stars in the Science Channel’s “Hurricane Man,” reported microburst-like "explosions of wind that literally sound like screams” in Legazpi City at 11:35 p.m. local time — 10:35 a.m. Eastern Monday. “Interior rooms of this large, four-story hotel are shaking & clanking,” he tweeted. Gusts at his location may top 150 mph.
The storm rapidly intensified Monday, growing from an 80 mph Category 1-equivalent to a 130 mph super typhoon in 24 hours. Now, it is on a crash course with populated areas along the Albay Gulf.
Near the mouth of the Tibu River in Legazpi City, sea walls ordinarily protect poorly-constructed homes that may stand only a few feet above sea level. With a storm surge potentially higher than that, hundreds of homes — if not shredded by the extreme wind — may be dismantled by the swelling seas.
In this region of the Philippines, 1 in 3 households lives below the poverty level.
The same area is experiencing torrential tropical downpours, which could total one to three feet in some locales. The mountainous terrain farther inland may foster dangerous mudslides that could pose additional danger. Winds in the high terrain could gust near 160 mph.
Eventually, Kammuri will dissipate in the South China Sea.
The storm will begin to subside in Legazpi City within the next 12 to 18 hours, but the storm has yet to track through the Calamian Islands. That will occur in a slightly weakened state, but a potentially devastating blow to the highly vulnerable area is possible.
The Philippines is perhaps the most cyclone-prone nation in the world. It averages eight or nine hits per year and often finds itself facing some of the most intense storms on Earth.
In 2013, the Philippines was hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan, a 195 mph monster that became one of the worst storms recorded globally. It killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines alone.