Typhoon Lawin (Jelawat) intensified further and neared super-typhoon status early Monday as it continued to move northward, state weather forecasters said.
PAGASA forecaster Samuel Duran said their models show Lawin may stay inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) until the weekend, and may enhance the southwest monsoon.
"Lumalakas ito, 175 kph na ang lakas. Inaasahan natin magtatagal ito sa loob ng Philippine Area of Responsibility. Mabagal ang pagkilos niya," Duran said in an interview on dzBB radio.
Earlier, PAGASA forecaster Elvie Enriquez said PAGASA considers cyclones with winds of 185 kph and above as super-typhoons.
PAGASA said this was the case with annular typhoon Karen (Sanba), which entered the PAR but did not make landfall.
When asked how long Lawin may stay inside the PAR, Duran said it may do so until Friday or Saturday.
"Kung ganito ang kanyang pagkilos, asahan natin by Friday hanggang Saturday ito magtatagal," he said.
Duran also noted there is no storm warning signal for now since Lawin is moving northward and is presently not affecting any area directly.
But he said that if Lawin continues to move north, it may enhance the southwest monsoon and bring rain to Metro Manila.
PAGASA's 5 a.m. advisory said that as of 4 a.m., Typhoon Lawin was estimated at 480 km east of Legazpi City, with maximum sustained winds of 175 kph near the center and gustiness of up 210 kph.
It was moving north-northwest at 7 kph and is expected to be 420 km east of Virac, Catanduanes Tuesday morning, and 530 km east of Casiguran, Aurora Wednesday morning.
By Thursday morning, it is expected to be 480 km east of Aparri, Cagayan.
While no public storm signals were raised, PAGASA said Lawin may bring rainfall of 10 to 20 mm per hour (heavy to intense) within its 700-km diameter.
It said Lawin is also enhancing the southwest monsoon, which may bring moderate to heavy rain over Visayas and Mindanao.
PAGASA said Mimaropa, Bicol, Visayas and Mindanao will experience cloudy skies with occasional moderate to heavy rain, which may trigger flash floods and landslides.
Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon will have occasional light to moderate rain and thunderstorms.
Northern Luzon will be partly cloudy with brief rain showers or thunderstorms.
Moderate to strong winds from the north to northwest will prevail over Bicol and Eastern Visayas, and coming from the west to southwest over the rest of Visayas and Mindanao.
The coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough.
Light to moderate winds coming from the northeast to northwest will prevail over the rest of Luzon, resulting in slight to moderate seas.
According to GMA resident meteorologist Nathaniel "Tani" Cruz, Weather Central's forecast track shows that Lawin's chance of making landfall over extreme northern Luzon remains low. Without any significant changes in its expected course, Lawin could be out of PAR on Friday.
However, moving slowly east of Luzon, Lawin will continue to enhance the habagat, Cruz added.
PAGASA said strong to gale force winds enhanced by Lawin may affect the northern, eastern and southern seaboards of Luzon and the seaboards of Visayas and Mindanao.
"Fishing boats and other small seacrafts are advised not to venture out into the sea while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves," it said.
Another incoming cyclone?
Meanwhile, another tropical disturbance, northwest of Guam, is being monitored by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and PAGASA.
"Meron tayong nakikita sa labas ng PAR, sa gilid. Namamataan natin active low-pressure area na ito," PAGASA's Enriquez said.
The tropical depression is helping build a trough influencing Lawin to move northward instead of northwestward, and is not expected to enter the PAR, Cruz said. –A.M. Marzoña/KG, GMA News