Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Typhoon Mangkhut made landfall early Saturday in the northern Philippines packing wind gusts of more than 200 mph, forecasters said.
The storm -- the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane -- made landfall around 2 a.m. in Cagayan province on Luzon Island. It was expected to weaken to a Category 4-equivalent hurricane as it travels across the northern portion of the country and across the South China Sea.
Mangkhut was expected to make landfall again midday Sunday near Macau.
PAGASA, the Philippines' government weather service, said the storm will bring torrential rains, very strong winds and possible storm surge. In its 4 a.m. update, the agency said the storm had 125 mph winds with gusts of more than 200 mph, and it was moving northwest at 21 mph.
Residents were "advised to take appropriate actions against possible flooding and landslides."
It added that the Cagayan area should expect storm surges of nearly 20 feet, and raised its Storm Signal system to Number 4, on a scale of one to five, indicating that winds of 106 mph to 137 mph are expected within 12 hours.
Forecasters cited a probable "high humanitarian impact." The Global Disaster alert and Coordination System said residents of the Philippines, Vietnam and the Chinese regions of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau would be affected.
Philippine Airlines and Xiamen Air canceled flights to Manila and to other cities on Luzon. Cebu Airlines and several Hong-Kong based airlines announced schedule changes.
The storm is expected to pass through Taiwan before it arrives on the south China coast, putting a possible 37 million people in jeopardy. Greg Browning, climatologist for Bureau of Meteorology Australia, called Mangkhut the most powerful storm system on earth this year.
"It's extremely dangerous as it's a very large system with very strong winds and a potential storm surge over a large distance. There will be very heavy rainfall associated with it which has potential to cause widespread damage, "Browning told the Australia news website news.com.au on Friday.