By Ariel Avendaño
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya — As typhoon “Ompong” is expected to slam Cagayan province with the strength of 205 kilometers per hour (kph) winds on Saturday morning, local officials said at least 1,259 families or 7,131 individuals from 12 towns of the province have already been evacuation to safer ground.
The Cagayan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) Head Rogie Sending said the provincial government evacuated mostly residents of coastal towns under threat of a storm surge.
Disaster officials warned coastal communities of Cagayan and Isabela against a creeping storm surge in the middle of the night around the time typhoon Ompong hits land.
Speaking on CNN Philippines earlier today (Friday), University of the Philippines-Project NOAH’s Dr. Mahar Lagmay said storm surges as high as six meters is projected to accompany the onslaught of the big typhoon.
Drawing comparisons to typhoon “Yolanda” which packed sustained winds of 235 kph when it made landfall in Leyte in 2014, Lagmay said that while Ompong only has maximum sustained winds of 205 kph it is still very strong and likely to cause a storm surge.
Lagmay said storm surges occur along coastal areas just as the eye of the typhoon passes the area. “Storm surges happen very close to the eye of the typhoon. In this case, it may accompany the typhoon as Ompong hits Cagayan and Isabela, according to PAGASA,” he said.
Based on the typhoon bulletin of PAGASA, Ompong is expected to make landfall before dawn tomorrow, Saturday, in either Cagayan or Isabela.
Lagmay said this means that residents of coastal areas of the two provinces must brace for a storm surge in the middle of the night with a height that may reach six meters.
The coastal towns of Cagayan are Sta. Ana, Gonzaga, Sta. Teresita, Buguey, Aparri, Calayan, Abulug, Pamplona, Ballesteros, Sanchez Mira, and Sta. Praxedes.