MANILA – Tropical cyclone Ompong may become a super typhoon before it makes landfall in Cagayan province on Saturday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said on Thursday.
The strength of Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) can be likened to super typhoon Lawin (international name: Haima), which also hit northern Luzon in October 2016 and left at least eight people dead, weather forecaster Rene Paciente said.
“Halos magkapareho ang bagyong Ompong sa bagyong Lawin. Iyong damage ni Lawin nang mag-landfall siya na severe, ganito rin ang mangyayari dito sa Ompong,” said Paciente.
“Malakas po ang bagyo natin at siguradong maraming punong tutumbahin ito kung hindi hihina ngayon. Saka iyong mga bahay na gawa sa light materials puwedeng tangayin,” he added.
Ompong slowed down to 20 kilometers per hour but continued to pack maximum sustained winds of 205 kph near the center and gusts of up to 255 kph, a Pagasa weather bulletin showed.
It was projected to peak at 220 kph in maximum sustained winds with gusts of 270 kph, and measuring around 900 kilometers in diameter.
On Thursday around 20 areas in Luzon have been placed under cyclone warning signal No. 1. They will experience rains from the periphery of typhoon Ompong in the next 36 hours, Pagasa said.
They include Batanes, Cagayan including Babuyan group of Islands, Apayao, Abra, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Isabela, Benguet, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Quezon including Polillo Island, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, Burias and Ticao island, and Northern Samar.
Meanwhile all concerned government agencies were now on alert for the impact of Ompong, Malacañang said on Thursday.
They have prepared supplies and assets that will be needed in the areas where the typhoon was expected to hit, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque told a press briefing.
“Ang reporting systems po ng Department of the Interior and Local Government ay naka-activate na upang subaybayan ang paghahanda ng iba pang lokal na pamahalaan, partikular na ang kanilang preemptive evacuation,” Roque said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development also allocated P1.7 billion worth of assistance and food packs for distribution to affected families.
In addition the Department of Health alerted its medical teams for possible deployment with medical supplies while the Office of Civil Defense readied its land, air and sea assets for rescue teams deployment and supplies distribution.
The Palace urged the public to remain vigilant. “Pinapaalalahanan po namin ang publiko na maging alerto at ligtas sa paparating na bagyo,” Roque said./PN