Satellite image of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) as of September 12, 2018, 10:30 pm. Image from NOAA
MANILA, Philippines – Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) maintained its strength on Wednesday evening, September 12, with Catanduanes and Camarines Sur now both under Signal No. 1.
In a bulletin issued 11 pm on Wednesday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Ompong is already 1,005 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes, moving west northwest at 20 kilometers per hour (km/h).
The typhoon continues to have maximum winds of 205 km/h and gustiness of up to 255 km/h. It has a huge diameter of 900 kilometers.
PAGASA said Catanduanes and Camarines Sur "will experience the peripheral effects of Ompong within the next 36 hours." They will have occasional rains and gusty winds.
While provinces in Bicol will be the first to feel the effects of Ompong, the typhoon is primarily threatening Northern Luzon.
Signal No. 1 could also be raised in Cagayan, Isabela, Aurora, Quirino, Polillo Island, Camarines Norte, and Albay on Thursday morning, September 13.
On Thursday, Ompong could also reach a peak intensity of 220 km/h in terms of maximum winds and 270 km/h in terms of gustiness. It might become a super typhoon. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)
PAGASA warned there may be heavy to intense rain, storm surges in coastal areas, and very strong winds in Cagayan and Isabela beginning Friday, September 14, and in Northern Luzon on Saturday, September 15.
Ompong might make landfall in the northern tip of Cagayan on Saturday morning.
Fishermen and others with small sea vessels are advised not to venture out into the seaboards of areas under Signal No. 1, and in the eastern seaboards of the Visayas and Mindanao.
Class suspensions have already been announced for the rest of the week. (READ: #WalangPasok: Class suspensions for September 13, 14, 15)
Forecast track of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) as of September 12, 2018, 11 pm. Image from PAGASA
The typhoon is also enhancing the southwest monsoon or hanging habagat. The enhanced southwest monsoon could trigger moderate to heavy rain in the following areas:
Thursday - Palawan, Bicol, Visayas
Friday - Palawan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Western Visayas, Central Visayas
Saturday - Palawan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Western Visayas
Residents of areas affected by the southwest monsoon should be on alert for flash floods and landslides, too.
The rest of Luzon, including Metro Manila, might have light to heavy rain with occasional gusty winds starting Friday. PAGASA earlier said Metro Manila could be placed under Signal No. 1 if Ompong's outer rainbands affect it.
PAGASA also noted that since this is still a "long-range forecast," it could change. The public should closely monitor updates. (READ: Will Typhoon Ompong be the same as Super Typhoon Lawin?)
Ompong is the Philippines' 15th tropical cyclone for 2018. The country usually gets an average of 20 tropical cyclones per year. (READ: LIST: PAGASA's names for tropical cyclones in 2018)
PAGASA declared the start of the rainy season last June 8. – Rappler.com