MANILA - (UPDATED) Typhoon Mangkhut continues to gain strength as it approaches the Philippine area of responsibility, the state weather bureau said Wednesday.
In its 11:00 a.m. advisory, PAGASA said Mangkhut has intensified further, packing 205 kph winds and gusts of up to 255 kph.
"Ito na ang so far ang pinakamalakas na bagyo na dumadaan sa ating bansa ngayong taon. Sikapin po natin na ito ay paghandaan nang mabuti," said Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary Renato Solidum in a press conference.
(This is by far the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year. Let us prepare for this.)
PAGASA said the typhoon, which was last spotted 1,190 km east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, is expected to enter PAR Wednesday afternoon. It will be named Ompong once it enters PAR.
Senior weather specialist Chris Perez warned of "very strong winds" and 6-meter high storm surges in coastal areas in the path of the typhoon, particularly in Cagayan and Isabela, by Friday and Saturday.
He said the state weather bureau may begin raising cyclone warning signals over the affected areas on Wednesday afternoon.
PAGASA said Mangkhut, now with a diameter of 900 km, is expected to reach peak intensity of around 220 kph max sustained winds and gusts of up to 270 kph.
A tropical cyclone with top sustained winds of 220 kph is classified by PAGASA as a super typhoon.
Mangkhut may bring Ondoy-level rains
Mangkhut is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon which will bring heavy rains on Wednesday to Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Siquijor, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, Dinagat Island, and Lanao del Sur.
PAGASA Administrator Vicente Manalo said because of the intensity of the typhoon and the habagat, Manghut may match or exceed the torrential rains caused by Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009.
"Kung may habagat siya plus 'yung ulan mismo na nanggagaling sa bagyo, puwede siyang tumaas. Puwedeng abutin niya si Ondoy or lampasan niya si Ondoy," Manalo warned.
(With the monsoon rains combining with rains coming from the typhoon itself, Mangkhut may match or exceed the Ondoy's rainfall.)
Hundreds of people were killed during the onslaught of Ondoy in 2009 due to flash floods in Marikina, Pasig and other parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
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