PAGASA: Typhoon 'Ompong' now in PH

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Dark skies over Tandang Sora flyover, Quezon City at 9 a.m., Wednesday | Photo courtesy of @bayntaybata Twitter user

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — Typhoon "Ompong," previously named "Mangkhut," is now inside the Philippine area of responsibility, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

Ompong was last seen at 1,145 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes.

In its 5:00 p.m. update Wednesday, PAGASA said Ompong had a maximum sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 255 kph.

Its center winds could possibly reach around 220 kph, the strength of a super typhoon, with gustiness of up to 270 kph as it moves over water.

Ompong is moving west at 20 kph.

PAGASA has already raised tropical storm signal number 1 in Catanduanes. Occasional rains and gusty winds are expected in the area within the next 36 hours.

The same tropical storm signal may also be raised in Cagayan, Isabela, Aurora, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Sur tomorrow morning.

PAGASA said Ompong with its wide radius and outer rainbands, and the southwest monsoon will bring scattered rains in Palawan and the Bicol region. Rains may trigger flooding and landslides. Visayas and Mindanao will also experience the same conditions.

The weather bureau earlier said the typhoon would bring "very strong" winds and heavy to intense rains in  Cagayan and Isabela povinces by Friday and the rest of Northern Luzon  the next day.

"Maaaring aabutin sa super typhoon ang typhoon 'Mangkhut' pero sa ngayon 220 kph pa lang siya," PAGASA Administrator Vincent Malano said.

[Translation: Typhoon "Mangkhut" may become a super typhoon but so far it is still 220 kph in maximum center wind strength]

Weather officials defines a super typhoon as one that packs 225 kilometers per hour (kph) center winds. Mangkhut is forecast with 220 kph center winds by Thursday.

This wind strength can uproot trees and tear down electrical posts. Structures made of light material such as galvanized iron may be blown away by strong gusts.

PAGASA even compared Mangkhut's possible impact to the damage from super typhoon "Haiyan" or "Yolanda" in 2013.

"Ito ay naranasan natin hindi lang noong panahon ni Haiyan kundi noong panahon ni Ruping noong 1992 sa Cebu and Rosing noong 1995 at talagang marami siyang nasira," Malano said.

[Translation: We have experienced this not only during Haiyan's time but also during Ruling in 1992 in Cebu and Rosing in 1995. It really has brought a lot of damage.]

Yolanda claimed thousands of lives and destroyed billions of pesos worth of properties.  It' maximum winds averaged at 235 kph.

Meanwhile, the rest of Luzon including Metro Manila and Western Visayas may experience light to moderate and occasionally heavy rains with gusty winds by Friday due to Mangkhut enhancing the southwest monsoon.