Ramon weakens into severe tropical storm; Sarah slows down

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MANILA, Philippines – Ramon (Kalmaegi) weakened from a typhoon into a severe tropical storm before dawn on Wednesday, November 20, while moving further inland in Cagayan. Tropical Depression Sarah, meanwhile, slightly slowed down while heading for Northern Luzon.

In a bulletin issued 5 am on Wednesday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Ramon now has maximum winds of 100 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 120 km/h, but its gustiness increased to 165 km/h from the previous 150 km/h.

PAGASA earlier said Ramon would "significantly weaken" after making landfall, "due to land interaction and the northeast monsoon." It is likely to keep getting downgraded until it is only a low pressure area.

Ramon had made landfall as a typhoon in Santa Ana, Cagayan, at 12:20 am on Wednesday.

The severe tropical storm is now in the vicinity of Baggao, Cagayan, still moving southwest at only 10 km/h.

There are no more areas under Signal No. 3, but Signal Nos. 1 and 2 remain raised due to Ramon.

Signal No. 2 (winds of 61 km/h to 120 km/h)

Signal No. 1 (winds of 30 km/h to 60 km/h)

Ramon continues to bring rain as it crosses land.

Wednesday, November 20

Thousands of residents fled their homes ahead of Ramon's landfall, fearing possible flash floods and landslides.

PAGASA warned that flooding may be experienced in coastal areas of Northern Luzon, especially in its western and northern portions. There are high waves near the coast because of Ramon and the northeast monsoon. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Classes were suspended in some areas for Wednesday. (READ: #WalangPasok: Class suspensions, Wednesday, November 20, 2019)

Ramon is the Philippines' 18th tropical cyclone for 2019, and the 2nd for November.

Forecast track of Severe Tropical Storm Ramon (Kalmaegi) as of November 20, 2019, 5 am. Image from PAGASA

Forecast track of Severe Tropical Storm Ramon (Kalmaegi) as of November 20, 2019, 5 am.

Image from PAGASA

Meanwhile, Sarah is now 510 kilometers east northeast of Virac, Catanduanes, or 750 kilometers east of Infanta, Quezon.

The tropical depression is now moving northwest toward Northern Luzon at a slightly slower 25 km/h, compared to 35 km/h earlier.

It continues to have maximum winds of 55 km/h and gustiness of up to 70 km/h. But it could intensify into a tropical storm within 12 hours.

Some areas are now under Signal No. 1 due to Sarah – overlapping too with several areas included in the list for Ramon. Note that this means residents who will be affected by Sarah are being given lead time of 36 hours to prepare, which is why Signal No. 1 has already been raised.

Signal No. 1 (winds of 30 km/h to 60 km/h)

Like Ramon, Sarah will trigger rain in Northern Luzon, beginning Thursday, November 21. Flash floods and landslides will also be possible.

Thursday, November 21

Landfall in Northern Luzon is possible as well for Sarah, around late Thursday evening or early Friday, November 22.

Due to Ramon, Sarah, and the northeast monsoon, travel is risky in the seaboards of areas under tropical cyclone wind signals; the seaboards of southern Isabela, Camarines Norte, and Catanduanes; the western seaboard of Zambales, Bataan, Occidental Mindoro, and Palawan; and the northern seaboard of Camarines Sur.

If Sarah maintains its speed and direction, it might leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Saturday, November 23.

Sarah is the Philippines' 19th tropical cyclone for 2019, and the 3rd for November.

Forecast track of Tropical Depression Sarah as of November 20, 2019, 5 am. Image from PAGASA

Forecast track of Tropical Depression Sarah as of November 20, 2019, 5 am.

Image from PAGASA

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. (READ: LIST: PAGASA's names for tropical cyclones in 2019)

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:

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