By Genalyn Kabiling and Alexandria San Juan
The government has called on the public to stay alert and prepare for the potential supertyphoon approaching the country.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration(PAGASA) said typhoon Mangkhut (international name)continues to gather strength before it enters the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) possibly on Wednesday.
In its latest weather forecast issued at 6 p.m. Monday, PAGASA weather specialist Aldzcar Aurelio said Mangkhut, which will be named “Ompong” when it enters PAR, was spotted 2,255 kilometers east of Southern Luzon.
Its maximum sustained winds slightly strengthen at 150 kilometers per hour while gustiness also strengthened and is now up to 185 kilometers per hour.
Mangkhut continues to move west at 35 kilometers per hour toward the country.
Earlier, PAGASA weather specialist Meno Mendoza said the typhoon can possibly reach a peak intensity of more than 205 kilometers per hour.
Based on PAGASA’s latest forecast track on Mangkhut, the typhoon is expected to enter PAR Wednesday afternoon.
Upon entering PAR, Aurelio said Ompong will slowly move northwest toward Northern Luzon and Taiwan area.
There is a possibility that the typhoon will make a landfall while it passes over Cagayan and Batanes.
Heavy rains are expected in Northern and Central Luzon Thursday and Friday due to the typhoon.
The state weather bureau warned residents in these areas to take appropriate actions against possible flooding and landslides.
The public is also advised to coordinate with local disaster risk reduction and management offices and to continue monitoring weather updates.
PAGASA Weather Specialist Gener Quitlong said in a radio interview that Mangkhut or Ompong might reach the strength of super typhoon Jebi that lashed Japan last week.
Contingency measures readied
With the possibility of a supertyphoon, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government has already readied contingency measures, including prepositioning food and relief supplies, in areas on the path of the storm but has also urged the public to brace for the calamity.
“We have a supertyphoon approaching. We urge the public to be always ready. Let us prepare our emergency kits in our homes, let us prepare our water and canned goods,” Roque said in Filipino during a Palace press briefing.
“We cannot stop calamities like supertyphoon but we can reduce the damage they can bring by being prepared,” he added.
Roque also called on families living in low-lying areas and near rivers to find alternative shelter in preparation for the storm. He said they could stay in government evacuation centers or in the houses for their relatives living in safer grounds.
‘Neneng’ brings rains
Meanwhile, another storm, tropical depression “Neneng,” was last located 200 kilometers north northwest of Basco, Batanes, with maximum sustained winds of 55 kph and gustiness of up to 65 kph.
Neneng is expected to exit PAR on Tuesday while moving west northwest at 10 kph.
According to PAGASA, Batanes will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and occasionally heavy rains with gusty winds brought by Neneng.
Cloudy skies with scattered rains and thunderstorms will prevail over Ilocos Norte, parts of Cagayan Valley, and Cordillera due to the trough of the tropical depression.
Generally fair weather is expected in the rest of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao but isolated rainshower is expected due to localized thunderstorms.
El Niño seen
As this developed, an El Niño event that could disrupt global weather is likely by the end of what has already been a hot year, the UN said Monday.
The World Meteorological Organization forecast “a 70 percent chance of an El Niño developing by the end of this year,” a WMO statement said.
El Niño is triggered by periodic warming in the eastern Pacific Ocean which can trigger drought in some regions, heavy rain in others.
“WMO does not expect the anticipated El Niño to be as powerful as the 2015-2016 event, but it will still have considerable impacts,” the statement said.
The organization sees increased odds of higher surface temperatures in most of Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America, Africa, and along much of South America’s coastline.
Interior parts of South America, Greenland, many south Pacific islands and some in the Caribbean were identified as possible exceptions.
WMO Secretary-General PetteriTaalas noted that 2018 “is on track to be one of the warmest on record,” after especially high temperatures in July and August across several parts of the world. (With a report from AFP)