Sarah downgraded to tropical depression ahead of exit from PAR

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MANILA, Philippines – Sarah (Fung-wong) was downgraded from a tropical storm to a tropical depression as it prepared to exit at the northern boundary of the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) before dawn on Saturday, November 23.

In a briefing at 5 am on Saturday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Sarah is already 700 kilometers northeast of Basco, Batanes, slowly moving north.

Its maximum winds are down to 55 kilometers per hour (km/h), with gustiness of up to 70 km/h.

Sarah did not make landfall in the Philippines, but its trough or extension earlier brought some rain to parts of Northern Luzon. It was classified as a severe tropical storm at its peak. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

PAGASA said Sarah is expected to leave PAR in the next 6 hours.

"There remains a possibility that Sarah will weaken into a low pressure area before it leaves," the state weather bureau added.

Sarah is the Philippines' 19th tropical cyclone for 2019, and the 3rd for November. (READ: LIST: PAGASA's names for tropical cyclones in 2019)

Forecast track of Tropical Depression Sarah (Fung-wong) as of November 23, 2019, 5 am. Image from PAGASA

Forecast track of Tropical Depression Sarah (Fung-wong) as of November 23, 2019, 5 am.

Image from PAGASA

Meanwhile, gale warnings for the country's seaboards have been terminated due to the weakening of the northeast monsoon or hanging amihan, said PAGASA.

On Saturday, there will only be isolated rain due to the northeast monsoon in the areas below. But PAGASA said there will be "no significant impact."

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