Typhoon Ompong heads for Ilocos Norte

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MANILA, Philippines – Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) slightly weakened early Saturday morning, September 15, and is now heading toward Ilocos Norte.

In a bulletin issued 8 am on Saturday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Ompong is already in the vicinity of Kabugao, Apayao, moving west at a slightly slower 30 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 35 km/h.

The typhoon now has maximum winds of 185 km/h from the previous 200 km/h and gustiness of up to 305 km/h from the previous 330 km/h. Note that although it has slightly weakened, it remains a threat.

Below are the tropical cyclone warning signals in place. Cagayan, where Ompong made landfall at 1:40 am on Saturday, has been downgraded from Signal No. 4 to 3.

Signal No. 4:

Signal No. 3:

Signal No. 2:

Signal No. 1:

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council earlier estimated that at least 5.2 million people are in the path of the typhoon.

Thousands of people in affected areas had evacuated ahead of Ompong's landfall. (READ: Will Typhoon Ompong be the same as Super Typhoon Lawin?)

Ilocos Norte remains at risk of storm surges up to 6 meters high, while Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan could see storm surges up to 2 meters. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Fishermen and others with small sea vessels are advised not to venture out into the seaboards of areas under tropical cyclone warning signals, the seaboards of Luzon and the Visayas, and the northern and western seaboards of Mindanao.

More than 6,000 passengers have been stranded at various seaports. Domestic and international flights have been canceled. (READ: DFA giving P5,000 aid for OFWs stranded due to Typhoon Ompong)

Classes were also suspended in various regions. (READ: #WalangPasok: Class suspensions for September 13, 14, 15)

Aside from directly affecting Luzon, Ompong is enhancing the southwest monsoon or hanging habagat. The enhanced southwest monsoon will trigger gusty winds and moderate to heavy rain in Western Visayas, the Zamboanga Peninsula, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Mimaropa, and Bicol. Scattered light to heavy rains will also hit Eastern Visayas and Central Visayas.

Residents of areas affected by the southwest monsoon should be on alert for flash floods and landslides, too.

Based on its latest forecast track, Ompong might leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Saturday evening. This estimated time of exit could still change if it slows down again.

PAGASA cautioned, however, that even if the eye of the typhoon exits PAR, Ompong could still affect parts of Luzon due to its wide diameter. (READ: COMPARISON: Typhoon Ompong and previous Philippine typhoons)

Forecast track of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) as of September 15, 2018, 8 am. Image from PAGASA

Forecast track of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) as of September 15, 2018, 8 am.

Image from PAGASA

Ompong is the Philippines' 15th tropical cyclone for 2018. The country usually gets an average of 20 tropical cyclones per year. (READ: LIST: PAGASA's names for tropical cyclones in 2018)

PAGASA declared the start of the rainy season last June 8. – Rappler.com

News you can use during Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut):