MANILA, Philippines—The eye of Typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) missed Metro Manila by a whisker.
The typhoon was at its strongest between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday, with its eye only 20 kilometers east of the metropolis, according to Nathaniel Cruz, weather chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
The rains and winds were so strong that the Department of Social Welfare and Development had to postpone flying a planeload of relief goods to Western Visayas (Region 6), the most affected by the typhoon.
Frank made landfall in Eastern Samar province before 5 p.m. on Friday, according to weather forecaster Ludy Aviar.
Moving northwest, the typhoon had been expected to cross Samar and pound the Bicol peninsula on Saturday morning.
But Frank changed course and moved westward to Panay Island and the Mindoro area instead, skirting Albay province in Bicol.
“Frank has a very erratic movement. Not only PAGASA but also other forecasting centers were also not able to predict accurately the path of Frank. But we were able to make the necessary adjustments not only once or twice,” Cruz told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).
He also said that PAGASA hoisted storm signals over the threatened regions in time to avert any accidents.
A high-pressure area in the northern part of the country was among the factors that made Frank’s movement unpredictable, Cruz said.
At 11 a.m. on Saturday, PAGASA advised that Frank was approaching Mindoro island-province at 140 kph to 170 kph. About three hours later, the weather bureau spotted Frank pummeling the vicinity of Tablas Island, or just off the coast of Romblon province.
It weakened to 120 kph as it moved northwest to Batangas province on Saturday evening. At 10 p.m., the typhoon was 70 km south of Calapan in Oriental Mindoro province.
Frank, the sixth typhoon to affect the country this year, reached Metro Manila at 5 a.m. Sunday. At 10 a.m., its eye was monitored hovering over Clark, Pampanga as it crossed Central Luzon toward Pangasinan province.
By then, it was packing maximum sustained winds of 120 kph near the center with gustiness of up to 150 kph.
“If it maintained its direction, which is northwest at 15 kph, we can expect that it will exit the western coast of Central Luzon Sunday night,” weather specialist Cris Perez said.
He said the typhoon was expected to be 130 km west of Laoag City Monday and 310 km west northwest of Basco, Batanes, by Tuesday.
On Wednesday, it is expected to be 80 km northwest of Taiwan.
Storm Signal No. 3 was hoisted over northern Zambales, western Pangasinan and
La Union as of 11 p.m. Sunday.
Tarlac, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Benguet, and the rest of Zambales and Pangasinan were placed under Storm Signal No. 2.
Signal No. 1 was raised over Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Nueva Viscaya, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan and Metro Manila.