Typhoon Maria slightly stronger, faster ahead of entry into PAR

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MANILA, Philippines – Typhoon Maria slightly strengthened and accelerated outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Sunday afternoon, July 8. It will be given the local name Gardo once it enters PAR on Monday morning, July 9.

Maria or the potential Gardo is not expected to make landfall in the Philippines, but state weather bureau PAGASA warned that it would enhance the southwest monsoon or hanging habagat.

In a bulletin issued 4 pm on Sunday, PAGASA said Maria now has maximum winds of 190 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 185 km/h and gustiness of up to 235 km/h from the previous 225 km/h.

The typhoon is already 1,625 kilometers east of Northern Luzon, moving northwest at a faster 23 km/h from the previous 15 km/h. Since it's still outside PAR, it has no effect on the country yet – even indirect.

Given that Maria or Gardo is not expected to make landfall, tropical cyclone warning signals will also not be raised even if it enters PAR. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

But the typhoon will enhance the southwest monsoon, which is affecting Luzon and the Visayas.

On Monday, the southwest monsoon is expected to trigger light to heavy rain in the regions of Metro Manila, Mimaropa, Calabarzon, and Western Visayas, as well as the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino, Aurora, Bataan, and Zambales.

Residents of those regions and provinces to be affected by the southwest monsoon, especially those in low-lying and in mountainous areas, should be on alert for possible flash floods and landslides.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country – not affected by the southwest monsoon – will have isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms on Monday. Flash floods and landslides are possible, too.

Based on its latest forecast track, the typhoon will leave PAR on Wednesday morning, July 11, exiting just off Taiwan. Taiwan is still within PAR, an area set by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for PAGASA to monitor, as weather disturbances here directly or indirectly affect the Philippines.

PAGASA had declared the start of the rainy season last June 8. – Rappler.com