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MANILA, Philippines – Ambo (Vongfong) intensified from a tropical storm into a severe tropical storm on Wednesday afternoon, May 13, as it continued to move toward the Eastern Visayas-Bicol area.
In an online briefing past 5 pm on Wednesday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Ambo now has maximum winds of 95 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 85 km/h and gustiness of up to 115 km/h from the previous 105 km/h.
It could still strengthen into a typhoon in the next 24 hours, warned PAGASA. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)
At the moment, Ambo is located 315 kilometers east of Borongan City, Eastern Samar. It has been moving at a generally slow pace, currently at just 10 km/h as it heads west northwest.
More areas were placed under Signal No. 1 as of Wednesday afternoon. These are:
- Ticao Island
- southern part of Albay (Oas, Tabaco, Ligao City, Pio Duran, Guinobatan, Malilipot, Jovellar, Camalig, Santo Domingo, Bacacay, Rapu-rapu, Daraga, Legazpi City, Manito)
- Northern Samar
- northern part of Samar (Calbayog, Sta Margarita, Gandara, Matuguinao, Pagsanghan, San Jorge, San Jose de Buan, Tarangnan, Catbalogan City, Jiabong, Motiong, San Sebastian, Paranas, Hinabangan)
- northern part of Eastern Samar (Jipapad, Arteche, Maslog, Oras, San Policarpio, Dolores, Can-avid, Taft, Sulat, San Julian, Borongan City)
PAGASA said strong to gale force winds may hit Northern Samar and the northern parts of Eastern Samar and Samar beginning Thursday afternoon, May 14, and Sorsogon, Ticao Island, Catanduanes, and the southern part of Albay starting Friday morning, May 15. (READ: Why is it now called tropical cyclone ‘wind’ – and not ‘warning’ – signals?)
In terms of rainfall, this is PAGASA’s outlook:
Wednesday, May 13
Scattered light to moderate rain, with at times heavy rain during thunderstorms
- Eastern Visayas
Thursday, May 14
Moderate to heavy rain
- Eastern Visayas
Heavy rain from Ambo might cause floods, landslides, and even lahar from Mayon Volcano. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology issued an advisory on Wednesday, warning that rainfall from Ambo might mix with volcanic deposits from Mayon’s 2018 eruption, which could result in lahar or volcanic mudflows.
Rough seas are also being experienced in the eastern seaboard of Bicol and the northern and eastern seaboards of Eastern Visayas on Wednesday. Travel is risky.
PAGASA Weather Specialist Loriedin de la Cruz said in the briefing that Ambo remains likely to make landfall in Bicol between Thursday evening and Friday morning. The province where it could make landfall has yet to be specified.
Ambo is the Philippines’ first tropical cyclone for 2020. The country gets an average of 20 tropical cyclones per year. (READ: LIST: PAGASA’s names for tropical cyclones in 2020)
In PAGASA’s climate outlook, it gave the following estimates for the number of tropical cyclones in the next 6 months:
- May – 1 or 2
- June – 1 or 2
- July – 2 to 4
- August – 2 or 3
- September – 2 or 3
- October – 2 or 3