Ramon weakens into tropical depression; Sarah strengthens into tropical storm

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MANILA, Philippines – Ramon (Kalmaegi) became downgraded from a tropical storm to a tropical depression late Wednesday morning, November 20, while Sarah intensified from a tropical depression into a tropical storm.

In a briefing past 11 am on Wednesday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Ramon now has maximum winds of 55 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 85 km/h and gustiness of up to 90 km/h from the previous 140 km/h.

PAGASA earlier said Ramon would "significantly weaken" after making landfall, "due to land interaction and the northeast monsoon." It will eventually become a low pressure area within 24 hours.

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

The tropical depression is now in the vicinity of Roxas, Isabela. It slightly accelerated, now moving south southwest at 20 km/h from the previous 15 km/h.

With Ramon weakening, there are no more areas under Signal No. 2. But Signal No. 1 remains up in several areas.

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

PAGASA added that strong to gale force winds may be experienced in Batanes and the Babuyan Group of Islands due to the surge of the northeast monsoon.

The rain from Ramon is not yet over as well.

Wednesday, November 20

Thousands of residents fled their homes ahead of Ramon's landfall, fearing possible flash floods and landslides. (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 Tropical Depression Ramon (Kalmaegi) as of November 20, 2019, 11 am. Image from PAGASA

Forecast track of Tropical Depression Ramon (Kalmaegi) as of November 20, 2019, 11 am.

Image from PAGASA

Meanwhile, with Sarah becoming a tropical storm, it has been given the international name Fung-wong. PAGASA said Fung-wong means Phoenix, referring to the name of a mountain peak. It was contributed to the list of international names by Hong Kong.

Sarah is now 715 kilometers east northeast of Infanta, Quezon, or 640 kilometers east of Casiguran, Aurora.

The tropical storm slightly slowed down again, now moving north northwest at 20 km/h from the previous 25 km/h.

It has maximum winds of 65 km/h from the previous 55 km/h and gustiness of up to 80 km/h from the previous 70 km/h.

The following remain under Signal No. 1 due to Sarah.

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

Like Ramon, Sarah will trigger rain in Northern Luzon. Flash floods and landslides will also be possible, especially since some areas have been saturated for 2 to 3 weeks now, starting with the tail-end of a cold front up to Ramon, and now the approaching Sarah.

Thursday, November 21

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

Sarah might leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Saturday, November 23. It is the Philippines' 19th tropical cyclone for 2019, and the 3rd for November.

Forecast track of Tropical Storm Sarah (Fung-wong) as of November 20, 2019, 11 am. Image from PAGASA

Forecast track of Tropical Storm Sarah (Fung-wong) as of November 20, 2019, 11 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