Luzon on alert as Typhoon Ompong enters PAR

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MANILA, Philippines – Typhoon Mangkhut entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) at 3 pm on Wednesday, September 12. It has been given the local name Ompong.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier said Ompong is located east northeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

Signal No. 1 could be raised in parts of Eastern Luzon between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, September 13.

On Thursday, Ompong could reach a peak intensity of 220 km/h in terms of maximum winds and 270 km/h in terms of gustiness. It might become a super typhoon. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

PAGASA warned there could be heavy to intense rain, storm surges in coastal areas, and very strong winds in Cagayan and Isabela on Friday, September 14, and in Northern Luzon on Saturday, September 15.

"Maraming ulan ang dala nito, moderate to heavy, puwede maging intense (It will bring plenty of rain, moderate to heavy, possibly intense)," said PAGASA Administrator Vicente Malano in a press briefing late Wednesday morning.

He also said the storm surges could be up to 6 meters high – dangerous and potentially damaging.

But he denied a rumor spreading online that the storm surges might reach 15 meters high.

"'Yung nilalabas ngayon na 15 meters [sa social media] – wala pa tayong nangyaring gano'ng kataas na storm surge.... Kay Yolanda, ang pinakamataas na storm surge noon nasa 7 to 8 meters," Malano said.

(The rumor being spread on social media that the storm surges would reach 15 meters – that's never happened before.... During Yolanda, the highest storm surges reached 7 to 8 meters.)

The winds, meanwhile, could be damaging as well.

"Expect talaga na maraming punong mau-uproot, maraming poste ng kuryente na itutumba. Kaya 'yung mga kababayan natin na 'yung bahay nila katabi 'yung puno, mag-ingat ho sila, maging alerto po, baka matumba 'yung puno at madaganan 'yung bahay at 'yun ang ika-disgrasya nila," said PAGASA Assistant Weather Services Chief Rene Paciente.

(Expect that many trees will be uprooted, many electrical posts will be toppled. Our fellow Filipinos whose houses are next to trees should be careful, be on alert, because a tree might get uprooted and fall on their home, and they could get hurt or killed.)

According to PAGASA, the typhoon's exact time and place of potential landfall is uncertain at the moment, since it is still far away from land.

Ompong might also enhance the southwest monsoon or hanging habagat. The enhanced southwest monsoon could trigger moderate to heavy rain in the following areas:

Residents of areas affected by the southwest monsoon should be on alert for flash floods and landslides, too.

The rest of Luzon, including Metro Manila, might have light to heavy rain with occasional gusty winds starting Friday. Metro Manila could be placed under Signal No. 1.

"Posible tayong mag-raise ng Signal No. 1...pero nasa outer periphery na tayo ng bagyo. Light to moderate to occasionally heavy na paulan, kasi may habagat din na kaakibat," said Paciente.

(We could raise Signal No. 1...but Metro Manila will be in the outer periphery of the typhoon. There could be light to moderate to occasionally heavy rain, also because it'll enhance the southwest monsoon.)

Ompong is the Philippines' 15th tropical cyclone for 2018. The country usually gets an average of 20 tropical cyclones per year. (READ: LIST: PAGASA's names for tropical cyclones in 2018)

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