'Torrential' rains expected within typhoon radius
MANILA - Tropical Cyclone Ompong may become a supertyphoon before it makes a direct hit in Cagayan province this weekend, the state weather bureau said Thursday.
At 4 a.m., the typhoon was 855 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes, packing maximum sustained winds of up to 205 kilometers per hour and 255 kph gusts, said PAGASA.
"Aabot po ito ng 210 to 220 [kph], iyun po ang pinaka-maximum [winds] niya, pero bago po ito mag-landfall maaaring mabawasan po iyun," PAGASA weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said.
(Its maximum sustained winds may reach 210 to 220 kph, but may still go down before it makes landfall.)
PAGASA classifies a cyclone with at least 220 kph top winds as a supertyphoon, the same category as Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), which pounded the Visayas in 2013, leaving a wide trail of destruction and some 7,350 people dead or missing.
Ompong was earlier classified as a supertyphoon by the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).
The JTWC classification is based on 1-minute instrumental readings. PAGASA has lower figures because it uses 10-minute readings similar to the standard used by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
'FLEE BEFORE LANDFALL'
Residents in northern Cagayan are urged to move to higher ground before Ompong makes landfall there on Saturday morning, Quitlong told radio DZMM.
Aside from Cagayan, other areas within the typhoon's 900-kilometer diameter should also expect "intense to torrential rains" starting Friday, he said.
Residents in the typhoon's path should be on the lookout for possible storm surges, floods and landslides, said Prof. Mahar Lagmay, executive director of the University of the Philippines Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (UP-NOAH).
Tropical cyclone warning signal no. 1 has been raised over 16 areas, which may be whipped by 30-60 kph winds within 36 hours, said PAGASA.
NEW THREAT LOOMS
PAGASA is also monitoring a low pressure area that may enter the country after Ompong's onslaught, said Quitlong.
The weather system spotted 4,000 kilometers away from the Philippines may intensify into a storm as it moves over the ocean, he warned.
Six to 8 more typhoons are expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility before the year ends, Quitlong said.
Ompong is predicted to reach China's southern coast around Sunday, according to an Agence France-Presse report citing the Hong Kong Observatory.
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