MANILA—Typhoon Maysak is losing strength as it moves west across the Pacific Ocean toward the Philippines, weather forecasters said on Thursday. Forecasters say the once-Super Typhoon is likely to be “just” a tropical depression when it makes landfall on Easter Sunday.
The U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicted the storm would make landfall on the Philippine island of Luzon on Sunday with wind speeds of 120 kilometers per hour, down from the 160 kilometers per hour it was forecasting yesterday.
While winds of that force aren’t expected to pose a serious threat to lives and property, the Philippine government has urged people to exercise caution, with many families likely to be traveling over the Easter weekend.
Philippine weather bureau Pagasa said that Maysak would be downgraded to a tropical depression by the time it reaches land.
Four people died across Micronesia on Tuesday, as Maysak struck the Yap islands with 250 kilometer per hour winds.
Maysak is the first severe storm to threaten the Western Pacific in the 2015 summer season—and has arrived unusually early in the year, according to Weather Underground’s senior digital meteorologist Nick Wiltgen, who said Maysak is only the fifth supertyphoon to have developed before April since records began in the 1940s. It is also the first March supertyphoon in 12 years, he said.
Pagasa said climate change is making extreme weather events in the region more intense and more erratic, and said possible El Niño conditions affecting the Pacific this year could also make this year’s typhoons harder to predict. El Niño is the warm phase of a periodic temperature oscillation in the Pacific that recurs roughly every two to seven years.
The Philippines is affected by around 20 typhoons every year, of which between five and 10 typically make landfall with varying degrees of intensity, according to Pagasa. The Philippines is still rebuilding after Supertyphoon Haiyan devastated the country’s central Visayas region in November 2013, leaving more than 7,300 people dead.