01:36 - Source: CNN
Super Typhoon Noul begins to lash Philippines

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NEW: No casualties reported, damage not as significant as feared, official says

The super typhoon hit land Sunday at the northeastern tip of the island of Luzon

(CNN) —  

Super Typhoon Noul intensified Sunday as it whirled toward the northeastern Philippines, prompting warnings of flooding and landslides in the mountainous region.

The storm, which is referred to as Dodong in the Philippines, strengthened into a super typhoon early Sunday, with maximum sustained winds of 240 kph (150 mph) and gusts as strong as 296 kph (184 mph).

Noul’s outer bands had lashed Luzon’s eastern coast through the afternoon as it drew nearer, packing maximum sustained winds of about 260 kph (160 mph) and gusts as strong as 315 kph (195 mph).

Authorities said they relocated about 3,800 residents of vulnerable areas to evacuation centers ahead of the typhoon’s arrival.

No casualties caused by the storm were reported early Monday and the damage wasn’t “as significant” as authorities had feared, said Alex Pama, an official at the national disaster management agency.

On Monday, the storm weakened as it started to change direction. Noul’s maximum sustained winds were around 195 kph (120 mph), no longer super-typhoon strength.

It’s forecast to curve toward the northeast in the direction of Japan’s Okinawa Islands, losing strength as it advances.

The agency issued its second-highest storm warning signal for the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela and Apayao, saying the super typhoon could bring flash floods and landslides.

Storm warnings across three provinces

In Santa Ana, a town of about 30,000 people, fishermen brought in their boats earlier in the day, and businesses boarded up their windows, storm chaser James Reynolds told CNN.

“People here are taking it very seriously,” he said.

Over roughly two days, Noul could dump as much as half a meter (20 inches) of rain on some areas, almost the same amount that London gets in a year, said meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

Much of the region is sparsely populated, but the mountainous terrain is likely to draw a lot of the rain, Javaheri said.

The rough seas caused by the storm prompted many vessels ships to take shelter in ports, leaving more than 5,000 people stranded across the nation, according to the national disaster management agency.

Farmers wanted rain

Noul is been menacing the northeastern Philippines at a time when a volcano, Mount Bulusan, has been spewing ash in southern Luzon.

Farmers in Luzon were hoping the storm would weaken while still providing much needed rains after a dry spell in the region, according to the charity World Vision.

Situated in a vulnerable part of the Pacific, the Philippines experiences an average of 20 typhoons a year, five of them destructive, according to the Asian Disaster Reduction Center.

CNN’s Jennifer Z. Deaton, Faith Karimi, Brian Walker and Derek Van Dam contributed to this report.