Up to 32 million people could be affected by cyclone-strength winds and surge from Typhoon Hagupit, a huge storm expected to make landfall in the Philippines this weekend. Although Hagupit had weakened Friday and was no longer classified a "super typhoon," the system was a Category 4 -- a major threat to the country still recovering from last year's Typhoon Haiyan, which killed 7,000 people and left 4 million homeless.
Landfall was expected Saturday, but the storm might not leave the Philippines until Wednesday, along the way dropping two feet of rain, flooding the island and causing landslides. Its winds were up to 130 miles per hour, causing the Philippines' weather agency to broadcast warnings for 34 areas. But even once Hagupit's winds slow on Monday, it could take down trees and cause power outages, the Weather Channel reported. "This storm is not going to be quite as strong as Haiyan, but the probability is it has the potential to impact some of the same areas that were impacted last year," meteorologist Ari Sarsalari told NBC News.
It's unclear where, exactly, the storm will go after making landfall. Philippine meteorologists thought it might go west, but U.S. experts predicted it would travel over Manila, the capital. "Everyone, everybody, from the people to the local government to the national government, is not taking chances,” International Organization for Migration official Bradley Mellicker told the New York Times. "They’re fully mobilizing to prepare before it arrives."
Flights were canceled and shelters were full Friday as residents evacuated. In Tacloban alone, about 20,000 people had packed into 26 evacuation centers. Families along the coast traveled inland. Government officials had started putting together 70,000 food packs, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. About 200 officers were stationed at stores to prevent looting like that after Haiyan, locally called Yolanda.
"We have no more excuse," Tacloban vice mayor Jerry Yaokasin said, according to USA Today. "We have gone through Yolanda, and to lose that many lives, it's beyond our conscience already."
Twitter photos showed the storm's size and impact on locals:
— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) December 5, 2014
— LPU Updates (@TagaLPU) December 5, 2014
— Celso Dulce (@DulceCelso) December 5, 2014
— NBC News Pictures (@NBCNewsPictures) December 5, 2014
— AlertNet (@AlertNet) December 5, 2014
— Joseph Morong (@Joseph_Morong) December 5, 2014
— GMA News (@gmanews) December 5, 2014
â€” Kumi Naidoo (@kuminaidoo) December 5, 2014