Typhoon Ambo slams Philippines, testing COVID-19 protocols

Jamaine Punzalan, Gillan Ropero and Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 14 2020 09:40 AM | Updated as of May 14 2020 03:55 PM

US NOAA/Japanese Meteorological Agency/Himawari-8 animated satellite imagery of Typhoon Ambo as of 2 p.m. Thursday

MANILA (3rd UPDATE) -- Typhoon Ambo slammed coronavirus-stricken Philippines Thursday with heavy rains and fierce winds, as tens of thousands required evacuation while observing pandemic protocols.

The first storm of the year made landfall over San Policarpo, Eastern Samar at 12:15 p.m. As of 2 p.m., it was packing maximum sustained winds of 155 kph with 190 kph gusts, PAGASA said.

Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone said residents were surprised at the strength of the typhoon's landfall. The roof of an evacuation center collapsed but authorities have yet to receive information if anyone was hurt, he added.

"Kaninang madaling araw pa namin nararamdaman 'tong malakas na hangin at ulan. Akala ko nga kaninang umaga pa nag-landfall. Iyon pala patikim lang," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(We have been feeling strong winds and rains since early morning. I thought it already made landfall this morning. It turns out it was just a taste of what was to come.)

Most schools, used as typhoon shelters, were converted into quarantine facilities in preparation for the pandemic, Evardone said.

The province has yet to record a COVID-19 case but has isolated 4,000 residents suspected of infection, he added.

"Hindi naman puwedeng dalhin namin doon iyong mga evacuees sa mga centers lalo na kung mayroon dong naka-ano ng COVID. Hindi puwedeng paghalo-haluin iyon," he said.

(We can't bring evacuees to quarantine centers. We can't mix them.)

Ambo will bring heavy to intense and at times torrential rains over Samar provinces, Masbate, Sorsogon, and Catanduanes, PAGASA said in its 11 a.m. bulletin. 

Moderate to heavy with at times intense rains will prevail over Albay, Camarines Sur, and the rest of Eastern Visayas, it added.

Metro Manila, Laguna and Cebu City will remain under lockdown until May 31. A "modified" or looser version of the enhanced community quarantine takes effect on May 16 after 2 months of lockdown.

Metro Manila, home to 12 million people, and Laguna are under signal no. 1. 

Metro Manila, home to 12 million people, and Laguna are under signal no. 1. 

The following areas were placed under signal no. 3, where winds may blow off roofs made of medium strength materials such as timber and galvanized iron:

  • Sorsogon
  • Albay
  • Masbate including Ticao and Burias Islands
  • Catanduanes
  • southern portion of Camarines Sur (Cabusao, Libmanan, Pasacao, Pamplona, Canaman, Magarao, Bombon, Calabanga, Camaligan, Gainza, San Fernando, Milaor, Naga, Tinambac, Siruma, Pili, Goa, Lagonoy, Garchitorena, Minalabac, Caramoan, Presentacion, Bula, Ocampo, Tigaon, San Jose, Balatan, Nabua, Baao, Sagnay, Bato, Iriga, Buhi)
  • Northern Samar
  • northern portion of Eastern Samar (Jipapad, Arteche, Maslog, Dolores, Oras, San Policarpio, Can-avid, Taft, Sulat, San Julian, Borongan City, Maydolong)
  • northern portion of Samar (Calbayog City, Sta. Margarita, Gandara, Pagsanghan, San Jorge, Matuguinao, San Jose de Buan, Catbalogan, Jiabong, Motiong, Paranas, Tarangnan, San Sebastian, Hinabangan)
  • Biliran
Track of Typhoon Ambo. PAGASA/Handout

Signal no. 2, where winds of 61 to 120 kph may damage poorly constructed signs/billboards and down wooden or old electric posts, was hoisted over the following areas:

  • Camarines Norte
  • rest of Camarines Sur
  • rest of Quezon
  • Marinduque
  • northernmost portion of Leyte (Calubian, San Isidro, Tabango, Leyte, Capoocan, Carigara, Barugo, San Miguel, Babatngon, Tunga, Alangalang, Sta. Fe, Palo, Tacloban City, Jaro)
  • rest of Samar
  • rest of Eastern Samar

Signal no. 1 was raised in the following areas, where rice crops may suffer significant damage and some banana plants may be tilted:

  • Metro Manila
  • - Aurora
  • southern portion of Nueva Ecija (General Mamerto Natividad, Palayan City, Cabanatuan, Santa Rosa, Jaen, San Isidro, San Antonio, Cabiao, Bongabon, Gabaldon, General Tinio, Laur, San Leonardo, Peñaranda, Gapan City)
  • Bulacan
  • Cavite
  • Laguna
  • Batangas
  • Rizal
  • rest of Quezon
  • Romblon
  • Bataan
  • Pampanga
  • rest of northern portion of Leyte (Villaba, Kananga, Matag-ob, Palompon, Ormoc, Merida, Isabel, Ormoc City, Albuena, Pastrana, Dagami, Tanauan, Tabontabon, Tolosa, Barauen, Julita, Dulag)
  • northeastern portion of Capiz (Pilar)
  • northeastern portion of Iloilo (Carles, Balasan, Estancia, Batad)
  • Northern Cebu (Medelin, Daanbantayan, Madridejos, Bantayan, Santa Fe)

Ambo is expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility between Monday and Tuesday.

Visit the ABS-CBN Weather Center for more updates