Severe Tropical Storm Ineng nears southern Taiwan-Batanes area

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MANILA, Philippines – Severe Tropical Storm Ineng (Bailu) slightly accelerated as it approached the southern Taiwan-Batanes area before dawn on Saturday, August 24.

In a briefing past 5 am on Saturday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Ineng is already 105 kilometers east northeast of Basco, Batanes.

The severe tropical storm is now moving northwest at 25 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 20 km/h.

It is unlikely to make landfall, but is seen to cross the Bashi Channel and will be closest to Batanes on Saturday morning, between 6 am and 8 am.

Ineng maintained its strength, with maximum winds of 100 km/h and gustiness of up to 125 km/h.

It is expected to remain a severe tropical storm for the rest of its stay inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR). It is unlikely to become a typhoon.

The following tropical cyclone wind signals remain raised:

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

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

Strong winds are expected in areas under Signal Nos. 1 and 2.

Ineng is also enhancing the southwest monsoon or hanging habagat, which is another source of rain.

On Saturday, the following areas are experiencing rain from Ineng and/or the southwest monsoon:

Moderate to heavy rain

Light to heavy rain

Residents of those areas must stay on alert for possible flash floods and landslides. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Travel is also risky in the seaboards of areas under Signal Nos. 1 and 2, as well as in the seaboards of Luzon and the eastern seaboard of the Visayas.

A gale warning was issued at 5 am on Saturday due to Ineng and the southwest monsoon. PAGASA warned of rough to very rough seas with wave heights reaching 2.8 meters to 4.5 meters in the following areas:

PAGASA said fishing boats and other small vessels should not set sail, while larger vessels must watch out for big waves.

Based on its latest forecast track, Ineng will leave PAR either late Saturday afternoon or early evening.

Forecast track of Severe Tropical Storm Ineng (Bailu) as of August 24, 2019, 5 am. Image from PAGASA

Forecast track of Severe Tropical Storm Ineng (Bailu) as of August 24, 2019, 5 am.

Image from PAGASA

Meanwhile, PAGASA is also monitoring a low pressure area (LPA) outside PAR. This LPA is 1,900 kilometers east of Mindanao and could enter PAR when Ineng leaves.

Ineng is the Philippines' 9th tropical cyclone for 2019 and the 2nd for August. (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 are expected.

Below is the estimated number of tropical cyclones from August to December:

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