Record-breaking Typhoon Surigae continues menacing Philippines

Maura Kelly
·5 min read

Typhoon Surigae continued its sluggish northward journey early Wednesday, local time, as the storm continued to lash the Philippines with rough surf, heavy rain and strong winds for the fifth consecutive day. AccuWeather meteorologists expect the storm to menace parts of the northern Philippines through Wednesday before it veers out to sea.

As of Wednesday morning, local time, Surigae was packing 10-minute average maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 km/h) and wind gusts reaching as high as 155 mph (250 km/h).

Surigae became the first typhoon of 2021 in the West Pacific basin during the middle of last week. The typhoon then set another first, becoming the first super typhoon of the season Saturday, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).

At one point Sunday morning, Surigae's strength was equivalent to a Category 5 major hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale in the Eastern Pacific. The storm has since returned to the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane, which is still considered a major hurricane.

According to NASA, when Surigae reached Category 5 strength on April 17, "it marked the earliest date in the year that any storm in the Northern Hemisphere had reached such intensity in modern record-keeping."

The ferocious storm at one point was packing sustained winds of 190 mph (305 km/h), according to the JTWC.

By Tuesday morning, local time, after spending about three full days as a super typhoon, the storm lost some wind intensity and dipped just below the criteria for a super typhoon.

Typhoon Surigae

This infrared satellite image shows Super Typhoon Surigae bringing rain and strong winds to portions of the Philippines on April 19, 2021. (CIRA/RAAMB)

The storm was given the name Bising in the Philippines once it entered the area monitored by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Once a tropical storm or typhoon enters this area, it is given a name by PAGASA separate from the international name that it may have already been designated.

The storm began lashing the eastern Philippines late Saturday as the outer rainbands reached the Visayas. A tumultuous sea could also be seen just offshore of the province Sunday morning as Surigae approached the area.

In this photo provided by the San Policarpo Firestation, firemen and police push up a steel fence as they clear roads during rain caused by Typhoon Surigae in the municipality of San Policarpo, Eastern Samar, eastern Philippines Sunday, April 18, 2021. (Photo/AP)

On Sunday morning, local time, Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua put mandatory evacuation orders in place for residents living near shorelines, riverbanks and landslide-prone areas in the Catanduanes province. This evacuation included more than 100,000 people.

All inbound and outbound flights have been canceled at the Tacloban City Airport, located on the Leyte Island of the central Philippines, as heavy rain and winds from the typhoon batter the area. No damage has been reported as of Saturday evening, local time.

The above satellite image shows Surigae spinning as a powerful typhoon just east of the Philippines on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 20. (Photo/CIRA RAMMB)

At least one fatality has been attributed to the storm as of Monday morning, local time. A 75-year-old man was killed in the Eastern Visayas region early Monday as rain and wind pummeled the area, according to the Manila Bulletin News.

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"Over the weekend, Surigae's forward motion slowed, allowing the same areas to be hit with round after round of heavy rain," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Courtney Travis.

Light to moderate wind shear and warm water in the southern Philippine Sea will allow Surigae to maintain about the same intensity over next week and weekend as well.

The typhoon has already begun to turn more to the north, but is close enough for the heaviest rain and gusty winds to reach the islands of Samar, Catanduanes and far southeastern Luzon in the eastern Philippines into Wednesday.

"The more quickly Surigae is able to move northward, away from the hardest hit areas, the quicker they'll be able to get some relief from the deluge of rain," added Travis.

As of Tuesday midday, rainfall totaled 19.24 inches (489 mm) since Sunday. The city of Catarman also recorded over 15 inches (380 mm) of rain.

Widespread rain amounts are forecast to reach as high as 8-12 inches (200-300 mm) in the eastern Visayas and southeast Luzon through Wednesday. This can lead to flash flooding and the threat for mudslides across the region.

Across the rest of the eastern Philippines, 2-4 inches (50-100 mm) of rain is expected.

The most destructive winds in excess of 100 mph (160 km/h) from the typhoon have fortunately remained over water, with wind gusts only to about 50 mph (80 km/h) reaching the eastern shores of the Philippines.

Still, boaters and offshore ships in the area should still use caution in the area until the powerful storm has pulled away.

After turning to the north, Surigae may lose some forward momentum during the second half of the week. By the end of the week, another nontropical storm is forecast to track from China to Japan. This storm may to pick up Surigae and turn the typhoon to the east before it gets absorbed by the system.

After turning to the north of the Philippines, Surigae is likely to run into less favorable conditions for tropical cyclones, said AccuWeather Meteorologist Tony Zartman, adding that this could cause the storm to lose wind intensity later next week.

Surigae will still have to be watched closely as impacts to Iwo To and the Volcano Islands to the south of mainland Japan cannot yet be ruled out.

While there is no official start or end date to the tropical season in the West Pacific, most tropical systems develop between May and October.

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