Typhoon Ambo maintains strength as it crosses Northern Samar

Acor Arceo
Dozens of areas are under Signal Nos. 1, 2, and 3 as of 8 pm on Thursday, May 14, as Typhoon Ambo (Vongfong) continues to barrel through the island of Samar

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Satellite image of Typhoon Ambo (Vongfong) as of May 14, 2020, 8 pm. Image from NOAA

MANILA, Philippines – After battering Eastern Samar and Samar, Typhoon Ambo (Vongfong) began crossing Northern Samar early Thursday evening, May 14.

In a bulletin issued 8 pm on Thursday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Ambo is already in the vicinity of Catarman, Northern Samar. It is still moving west at 15 kilometers per hour (km/h).

“The eyewall of Typhoon Ambo is bringing violent winds and heavy to intense rain over the western portion of Northern Samar,” PAGASA said.

Ambo earlier made landfall in San Policarpo, Eastern Samar, at 12:15 pm on Thursday. It then crossed over to Samar, and now Northern Samar. The 3 provinces make up the island of Samar.

The typhoon still has maximum winds of 155 km/h and gustiness of up to 255 km/h. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Even more areas were included under tropical cyclone wind signals as of 8 pm on Thursday. Check the complete list below. (READ: Why is it now called tropical cyclone ‘wind’ – and not ‘warning’ – signals?)

Signal No. 3 (winds of 121 to 170 km/h, or strong to destructive typhoon-force winds during the passage of the typhoon)

  • Sorsogon
  • Albay
  • Masbate including Ticao Island and Burias Island
  • Catanduanes
  • Camarines Sur
  • Camarines Norte
  • Marinduque
  • southern part of Quezon (Pagbilao, Atimonan, Padre Burgos, Agdangan, Plaridel, Unisan, Gumaca, Pitogo, Perez, Alabat, Quezon, Tagkawayan, Calauag, Lopez, Macalelon, General Luna, Catanauan, Buenavista, Guinayangan, Mulanay, San Narciso, San Andres, San Francisco)
  • Northern Samar
  • northern part of Eastern Samar (Jipapad, Arteche, Maslog, Dolores, Oras, San Policarpio, Can-avid, Taft, Sulat, San Julian, Borongan City, Maydolong)
  • northern part of Samar (Calbayog City, Sta Margarita, Gandara, Pagsanghan, San Jorge, Matuguinao, San Jose de Buan, Catbalogan City, Jiabong, Motiong, Paranas, Tarangnan, San Sebastian, Hinabangan)
  • Biliran

Signal No. 2 (winds of 61 to 120 km/h, or strong to damaging gale-/storm-force winds during the passage of the typhoon)

  • rest of Quezon
  • Romblon
  • Laguna
  • Batangas
  • Rizal
  • northernmost part of Leyte (Calubian, San Isidro, Tabango, Leyte, Capoocan, Carigara, Barugo, San Miguel, Babatngon, Tunga, Alangalang, Sta Fe, Palo, Tacloban City, Jaro)
  • rest of Samar
  • rest of Eastern Samar

Signal No. 1 (winds of 30 to 60 km/h, or strong to near-gale-force winds during the passage of the typhoon)

  • Aurora
  • Nueva Ecija
  • Bulacan
  • Metro Manila
  • Cavite
  • Bataan
  • Pampanga
  • Isabela
  • Nueva Vizcaya
  • Quirino
  • Tarlac
  • Zambales
  • Oriental Mindoro
  • Pangasinan
  • Ifugao
  • Benguet
  • La Union
  • rest of northern part of Leyte (Villaba, Kananga, Matag-ob, Palompon, Ormoc, Merida, Isabel, Ormoc City, Albuera, Pastrana, Dagami, Tanauan, Tabontabon, Tolosa, Burauen, Julita, Dulag)
  • northeastern part of Capiz (Pilar)
  • northeastern part of Iloilo (Carles, Balasan, Estancia, Batad)
  • northern part of Cebu (Medellin, Daanbantayan, Madridejos, Bantayan, Santa Fe)

PAGASA maintained the following rainfall outlook:

Thursday evening, May 14

Heavy to intense rain

  • Northern Samar
  • Eastern Samar
  • Samar
  • Masbate
  • Sorsogon

Moderate to heavy rain

  • Albay
  • Camarines Sur
  • Catanduanes
  • rest of Eastern Visayas

Friday, May 15

Moderate to heavy rain, with at times intense rain

  • Bicol
  • Northern Samar
  • Quezon
  • Aurora
  • Marinduque
  • Romblon

Floods, landslides, and even lahar from Mayon Volcano are possible. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology issued an advisory on Wednesday, May 13, warning that rainfall from Ambo might mix with volcanic deposits from Mayon’s 2018 eruption, which could result in lahar or volcanic mudflows.

The typhoon may also cause storm surges 2 to 4 meters high within 24 hours. These areas should be on alert for “potentially life-threatening coastal inundation”:

  • Northern Samar
  • Samar (west coast)
  • Sorsogon
  • Albay
  • Catanduanes
  • Camarines Sur
  • Camarines Norte
  • Quezon
  • Aurora

Sea travel remains risky for all vessels in the seaboards of areas under tropical cyclone wind signals.

The Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, said in a virtual briefing on Thursday that 175,954 hectares of rice and 89,303 hectares of corn are at risk due to the typhoon.

Ambo is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Monday, May 18. By then, it is likely to have weakened already into a tropical depression.

Forecast track of Typhoon Ambo (Vongfong) as of May 14, 2020, 8 pm. Image from PAGASA

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

Ambo’s arrival comes as the Philippines faces the coronavirus outbreak, with 11,876 cases as of Thursday. (READ: Social distancing ‘per family’ at Typhoon Ambo evacuation centers– Rappler.com

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.