MANILA - Typhoon Ompong (International name Mangkhut) has slightly weakened as it continues to move towards Ilocos Norte.
Ompong slammed into the northern Philippines on Saturday with violent winds and torrential rains, as authorities warned millions in its path of potentially heavy destruction.
The massive storm, which forecasters have called the strongest typhoon this year, blew in windows, hurled debris and knocked out power lines when it made landfall in the pre-dawn darkness near Baggao, Cagayan.
Currently packing 185 kilometers per hour (kph) winds and gusts of up to 305 kph, it headed west at a speed of 30 kph towards Ilocos Norte.
State weather bureau PAGASA has raised the following tropical cyclone warning signals over the following areas:
SIGNAL NO. 4
- Ilocos Norte
- Babuyan Group of Islands
SIGNAL NO. 3
- Ilocos Sur
- La Union
- Mountain Province
- Northern Isabela
SIGNAL NO. 2
- Southern Isabela
- Nueva Vizcaya
- Nueva Ecija
- Northern Quezon including Polillo Island
SIGNAL NO. 1
- Metro Manila
- Rest of Quezon
- Lubang Island
Ompong is expected to move away from the Luzon landmass between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday, while it is expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility Saturday night.
PAGASA weather forecaster Ezra Bulquerin said weather conditions are expected to improve by Monday.
An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty.
Thousands of people fled their homes in high-risk areas ahead of the storm's arrival because of major flooding and landslide risks.
Authorities hiked the storm alert on Friday to its second highest level in northern Luzon provinces and mobilized rescue teams.
The elevated warning level carried risks of "very heavy" damage to communities hit by the typhoon and a storm surge that was forecast to hit six meters in some areas, the weather service said.
Residents started lashing down their roofs and gathering supplies days before the arrival of the storm that forecasters said is the most powerful of 2018.
- With AFP