Mangkhut is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility this afternoon and will be locally named Ompong.
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Super typhoon Mangkhut accelerates, enters PAR Wednesday
Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - September 12, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Super typhoon Mangkhut has accelerated as it remains on track to pummel northern Philippines this weekend, the state weather bureau warned yesterday.

Mangkhut is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility this afternoon and will be locally named Ompong.

The US Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) upgraded Mangkhut into a super typhoon yesterday.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)’s 5 p.m. forecast, however, still classified Mangkhut as a typhoon.

PAGASA and JTWC use different standards in classifying cyclones.

PAGASA uses 10-minute average readings of a cyclone’s wind speed, while the JTWC uses one-minute average.

The state weather bureau categorizes a cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 220 kph as a super typhoon.

PAGASA is expected to raise tropical cyclone warning signal number 1 tonight over Northern and Central Luzon areas due to Mangkhut.

“Typhoon Mangkhut will be felt in Northern and Central Luzon beginning Thursday or Friday,” PAGASA weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said.

He said Mangkhut is expected to hit Cagayan-Batanes area on Saturday.

As of 3 p.m. yesterday, the eye of the typhoon was spotted at 1,650 kilometers east of Southern Luzon with maximum sustained winds of 185 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 225 kph.

It is expected to move west at 30 kph.

Mangkhut is expected to be 50 kilometers southwest of Calayan, Cagayan on Saturday morning.

Aurelio said Mangkhut is also expected to enhance the southwest monsoon, which will bring scattered light to moderate rains and thunderstorms over Zamboanga Peninsula, Western Visayas and Palawan beginning tomorrow.

The southwest monsoon will also bring light to moderate rains over the Bicol region, the Visayas and Mindanao tomorrow.

Aurelio said Metro Manila would experience cloudy skies with isolated light to moderate rains and thunderstorms due to the southwest monsoon by Friday.

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Neneng, which has intensified into a storm, left the Philippine area of responsibility yesterday.

PAGASA said the effects of Neneng (international name Barijat) over Northern Luzon were “gradually decreasing,” according to PAGASA.

PAGASA, however, said Batanes, Babuyan Group of Island and Ilocos provinces would continue to experience cloudy skies with scattered rainshower and thunderstorm due to the trough or extension of Neneng.

The weather agency continued to warn residents in these provinces to brace for possible flooding and landslides.

Meanwhile, Metro Manila and rest of the country still have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers due to thunderstorms.

As of 3 p.m., Neneng was located at 425 km west of extreme Northern Luzon, packing winds of 85 kph and gustiness of up to 105 kph. It was moving west southwest away from the country, according to Aurelio. 

The heavy rains caused by Neneng ground commerce in Batanes to a halt.

Flights were cancelled, leaving several visitors stranded while food supply deliveries were also cancelled.

Provincial disaster officials however did not report any casualty or injury from the storm.

Mangkhut, on the other hand, pummeled through Guam on Monday as it approached the Philippines through the Pacific.

The Philippine Consulate in Guam has not received a report that any of the 43,000 Filipinos living there and 20,000 more in Northern Marianas were adversely affected by the typhoon.

Level up preparations

With the approaching monstrous storm, lawmakers urged state agencies to make the necessary preparations.

Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez said state agencies and local disaster officials should learn from the lessons of super typhoon Yolanda. Her congressional district was practically wiped out by Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013.

“It is crucial to highlight that the struggle of our people did not only happen during that very day Haiyan made landfall: it continued even weeks after the typhoon long left our region,” she said.

“Deadlock and delays caused by bureaucratic paralysis, and poor coordination by different agencies rendered Tacloban City and most of the first district of Leyte completely helpless,” she recalled. 

Romualdez, who took over the post of her lawyer-husband Martin in May 2016, pushed for the approval of House Bill 7968 creating the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience that would replace the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

The NDRRMC, for its part, is putting on standby P1.7 billion worth of food packs and other disaster relief-related equipment in preparation for the storm.

NDRRMC spokesman Edgar Posadas said the agency is on red alert and has intensified its “Yolanda-like” preparation.

Posadas said the standby aid would complement the prepositioned food packs for the residents in the provinces of Cagayan, Abra, Isabela, Batanes, Kalinga and Apayao and the Ilocos provinces.

He said the government would determine today whether it should implement forced evacuation through local officials in the areas in the path of the typhoon.

Acting Social Welfare Secretary Virginia Orogo said they are closing monitoring weather bulletins to ensure immediate response to communities that will be affected by the weather system. 

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said stockpile food packs and standby funds are available at its central offices, field offices and the National Resource Operations Center. 

The department said it has 356,349 family food packs that are ready for immediate deployment. 

Undersecretary Hope Hervilla of the DSWD Disaster Response Management Group said they have prepositioned goods in all regions in preparation for the incoming typhoon. 

In Cagayan Valley, officials have implemented the “no sail and no fishing zone” as of Monday in preparation for Ompong.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) has alerted all its units and geared them for search and rescue operations for the typhoon.

Nolcom commander Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat said all ground forces were already deployed for humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.

Air and sea assets from the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard were also alerted for operations if needed.

Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Eduardo Año called on local officials to make preparation and implement measures to attain zero casualty.

“To the government officials, show your leadership. Don’t disappear. We should anticipate it, let’s aim for zero casualty,” Año said.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), the country’s power system operator and transmission service provider, said it has undertaken the necessary preparations and precautions to minimize the impact of the approaching storm.

The NGCP said preparations included ensuring the reliability of communications equipment, availability of hardware materials and supplies necessary for the repair of damages to facilities, as well as the positioning of line crews in strategic areas, to facilitate immediate restoration work.

On the other hand, the Department of Agriculture (DA) warned Ompong might leave P14 billion in estimated damage in agriculture.

Initial estimates from the DA’s Field Operations Office showed that approximately 1.2 million hectares of farms planted to rice and corn about to be harvested will be affected if Ompong continues on its course and slams into Northern Luzon.

Looking at the worst possible case scenario, rice crops in the Cordillera, Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon could suffer up to P7.3 billion in damage affecting 893,000 hectares of rice farms.

The DA field offices in the four regions have been advised to activate their disaster monitoring offices and operate on a 24-hour basis to monitor the effect of the typhoon. – With Jaime Laude, Louise Maureen Simeon, Delon Porcalla, Emmanuel Tupas, Pia Lee-Brago, Evelyn Macairan, Victor Martin, Jack Castaño, Janvic Mateo, Eva Visperas

MANGKHUT SUPER TYPHOON WEATHER
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