Severe Tropical Storm Sarah intensifies again

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MANILA, Philippines – Severe Tropical Storm Sarah (Fung-wong) strengthened again as it continued moving over the Philippine Sea on Thursday afternoon, November 21.

In a bulletin issued 5 pm on Thursday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Sarah now has maximum winds of 110 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 100 km/h and gustiness of up to 135 km/h from the previous 125 km/h.

The severe tropical storm is already 255 kilometers east of Basco, Batanes. It is moving northwest at the same slow pace of 10 km/h.

Signal No. 1 is still raised in Batanes, which means winds of 30 km/h to 60 km/h are expected in the province.

PAGASA added that gusty conditions will persist in the northern and western parts of Northern Luzon, especially in coastal and mountainous areas, due to the surge of the northeast monsoon or hanging amihan.

Sarah is not expected to make landfall in the Philippines. But its trough or extension will still bring light to moderate rain to these areas on Thursday night:

Residents of those areas are advised to monitor PAGASA advisories or warnings. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Travel also remains risky, especially for small vessels, in the seaboards of Batanes, the seaboards of Northern Luzon, and the western seaboard of Central Luzon and Southern Luzon due to Sarah and the northeast monsoon.

PAGASA said Sarah may gradually weaken on Friday, November 22, or on Saturday, November 23.

It is seen to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Saturday morning.

Forecast track of Severe Tropical Storm Sarah (Fung-wong) as of November 21, 2019, 5 pm. Image from PAGASA

Forecast track of Severe Tropical Storm Sarah (Fung-wong) as of November 21, 2019, 5 pm.

Image from PAGASA

Meanwhile, the low pressure area (LPA) which used to be Ramon (Kalmaegi) is already 400 kilometers west southwest of Subic, Zambales. Ramon had made landfall as a typhoon in Santa Ana, Cagayan, at 12:20 am on Wednesday, November 20, then gradually weakened.

PAGASA Weather Specialist Benison Estareja said the trough of the LPA is affecting the provinces of Zambales and Bataan. But the good news is the LPA is expected to leave PAR within 24 hours.

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

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