Severe Tropical Storm Sarah slightly strengthens over Philippine Sea

Acor Arceo
Only Batanes remains under Signal No. 1 due to Severe Tropical Storm Sarah (Fung-wong) as of 11 am on Thursday, November 21

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Satellite image of Severe Tropical Storm Sarah (Fung-wong) as of November 21, 2019, 10:30 am. Image from NOAA

MANILA, Philippines – Severe Tropical Storm Sarah (Fung-wong) slightly intensified and slowed down again while moving over the Philippine Sea on Thursday morning, November 21.

In a bulletin issued 11 am on Thursday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Sarah now has maximum winds of 100 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 95 km/h and gustiness of up to 125 km/h from the previous 115 km/h.

The severe tropical storm is already 275 kilometers east of Basco, Batanes. It is now moving west northwest at only 10 km/h from the previous 25 km/h.

Only Batanes remains under Signal No. 1, which means winds of 30 km/h to 60 km/h are expected in the province. Signal No. 1 has been lifted for the Babuyan Group of Islands.

But PAGASA said gusty conditions will still prevail in the northern and western parts of Northern Luzon, especially in coastal and mountainous areas, due to the surge of the northeast monsoon or hanging amihan.

Based on its latest forecast track, Sarah is no longer expected to make landfall in the Philippines. But the severe tropical storm’s trough or extension is bringing light to moderate rain with isolated heavy rainshowers to these areas:

  • Isabela
  • Cagayan (especially in the eastern section)
  • Aurora
  • northern part of Quezon

Residents of those areas are advised to monitor PAGASA advisories or warnings. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Travel also remains risky, especially for small vessels, in the seaboards of Batanes, the seaboards of Northern Luzon and Central Luzon, and the western seaboard of Southern Luzon due to Sarah and the northeast monsoon.

According to PAGASA, Sarah may gradually weaken on Friday, November 22, or on Saturday, November 23.

It is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Saturday.

Forecast track of Severe Tropical Storm Sarah (Fung-wong) as of November 21, 2019, 11 am. Image from PAGASA

Meanwhile, the low pressure area (LPA) which used to be Ramon (Kalmaegi) is already 225 kilometers west southwest of Subic, Zambales. Ramon had made landfall as a typhoon in Santa Ana, Cagayan, at 12:20 am on Wednesday, November 20, then gradually weakened.

PAGASA Senior Weather Specialist Chris Perez said the LPA is expected to continue moving away from the Philippines and eventually leave PAR.

Sarah is the Philippines’ 19th tropical cyclone for 2019, and the 3rd for November. (READ: LIST: PAGASA’s names for tropical cyclones in 2019)

The country gets an average of 20 tropical cyclones annually, but since 2019 is an El Niño year, only 14 to 18 tropical cyclones had been projected.

With Sarah’s arrival, the estimate has been exceeded for the year and also for the month of November.

These had been the projections for the last two months of 2019:

  • November – 1 or 2
  • December – 0 or 1

PAGASA declared the start of the rainy season last June 14. –

Acor Arceo

Acor Arceo is the head of copy and editorial standards at Rappler. Trained in both online and TV newsrooms, Acor supervises Rappler’s coverage of disasters, handles the business desk, and ensures consistency in editorial standards across all sections.