By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
Typhoon Mangkhut (international name) has further intensified while enhancing the southwest monsoon and moving closer to the country on Wednesday morning, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.
In its latest weather forecast, PAGASA said Mangkhut is last located already at 1,390 kilometers east of Southern Luzon while moving slightly slower westward at 20 kilometers per hour.
The typhoon has strengthened again and now packs maximum sustained winds of up to 200 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 245 kilometers per hour.
PAGASA senior weather specialist Chris Perez said that Mangkhut is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility Wednesday morning and will be referred to as “Ompong.”
Perez said Mangkhut remains on track to pummel Northern Luzon while moving northwest and may traverse the Cagayan-Batanes area on Saturday.
Perez added that Mangkhut is now enhancing the southwest monsoon or ‘habagat’ which affects Palawan, and western sections of Visayas and Mindanao.
Cloudy skies with scattered rains and thunderstorms will prevail over Palawan, and regions of Western Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula due to habagat.
While Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will experience a generally hot and humid weather with isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms.
A generally good weather with isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms is expected over the rest of Visayas and Mindanao.
Earlier forecasts stated that the effect of Mangkhut will be felt in Northern and Central Luzon Friday afternoon, where a tropical cyclone warning signal number 1 may be raised as early as Wednesday evening.
Widespread moderate to heavy rains due to the typhoon is possible by Friday, September 14 over Northern Luzon especially over the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Kalinga, Abra, Ilocos Norte and Batanes, PAGASA said.
PAGASA said that as of now, Mangkhut is the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year.
According to the bureau, Mangkhut’s expected maximum sustained winds may reach 210 kilometers per hour with gustiness of up to 260 kilometers per hour.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) already classified Mangkhut as a super typhoon.
Based on HKO’s tropical cyclone classification, a super typhoon has a maximum 10-minute mean wind near the center of up to 185 kilometers per hour or above.
But PAGASA earlier said they have not yet predicted that Mangkhut will be a super typhoon as it should have a maximum center wind strength of over 220 kilometers per hour.