First storm of 2020 bears down on Philippines as COVID-19 rages


Posted at May 11 2020 07:08 AM | Updated as of May 11 2020 11:59 AM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines' first storm this year will bring rains over large swaths of the country as it struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the state weather bureau said Monday. 

Tropical depression Ambo was at 340 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur at 10 a.m. as it slightly intensified, packing winds of 45 km per hour with up to 55 kph gusts, said PAGASA.

The storm's trough or extension on Monday will bring scattered light to moderate with isolated heavy rains and thunderstorms over Mindanao, the weather agency said in an 11 a.m. bulletin.

Moving west slowly, Ambo is forecast to make landfall over Bicol region between Thursday afternoon and early Friday, PAGASA said.

The storm, estimated to have a 300-kilometer diameter, may affect Visayas, Southern Luzon and Central Luzon as it traverses the Philippine landmass, according to PAGASA senior weather specialist Chris Perez.

Severe thunderstorms on Monday might hit Metro Manila and the rest of the country, PAGASA earlier warned.

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Metro Manila, home to about 12 million people, tallied Sunday a temperature of 35.6 degrees Celsius and a 43 °C heat index or actual temperature felt by the human body, said Duran. High temperatures and humidity build up storm clouds, PAGASA weather forecaster Samuel Duran said. 

Ambo bore down on the Philippines as it confirmed 10,794 cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday. Metro Manila and other high risk areas are under enhanced community quarantine until May 15 to arrest the spread of the respiratory disease.