Typhoon Ambo makes 1st landfall in Philippines
Due to the pandemic, more people might be less likely to evacuate to a shelter before a hurricane, but is it ever a good idea to stay home when the storm hits?
Typhoon Ambo has made the first of numerous expected landfalls over the eastern Philippines on Thursday. Although forecasters expect the typhoon to begin to weaken, it will still forge a path of destruction over the northern islands through the weekend.
The powerful storm, also referred to as Vongfong by Japan Meteorological Agency, has been slowly approaching the eastern islands of the Philippines for days.
Now with sustained winds of 155 km/h (96 mph), Ambo is equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic and East Pacific basins.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Typhoon Ambo made landfall over San Policarpo, in the Eastern Samar province of the Philippines at 12:15 p.m. local time.
In preparation of the storm, towns forecast to be in the path of the typhoon have began to issue evacuations and distribution of relief packages. A total of 515 families were evacuated from the towns of Maninila, Tandarora and Muladbucad Grande, all in the Albay area between the cities of Naga and Legazpi City.
Given the continuation of the global COVID-19 pandemic, evacuees were required to wear face masks.
The above video shows Vongfong, also known as Ambo in the Philippines, spinning as it strengthens on its approach on Wednesday evening, May 13. (CIRA/RAMMB)
The brunt of the storm will continue to impact the island Thursday with typhoon-strength winds and heavy rainfall likely.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Houk expects Ambo to begin to weaken into Thursday night. But, the exact track that Ambo takes will ultimately influence how long the weakening process will take.
"The mountains on each of the islands have the potential to rip Ambo apart and weaken it considerably. The longer Ambo remains over water, the stronger it will remain," Houk added.
While several landfalls are possible, each one that Ambo makes will increase the chances that the storm will weaken.
However, if landfalls and land interaction are minimized, sustained winds of up to 160 km/h (100 mph) are possible with wind gusts near an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 200 km/h (125 mph).
The most likely track, at this time, keeps the center of Ambo over the most southern portion of Luzon through early Saturday, local time, which may allow it to hold onto its identity as a typhoon a little longer.
"There will be a lot of moisture associated with this system, which will help to create a wide swath of heavy rain across the central and northern Philippines through the weekend," said Houk.
As much as 50 to 100 mm (2-4 inches) is possible just north of Cebu and all the way up to Manila.
Heavy tropical downpours throughout the second half of the week can increase the risk of flooding and mudslides across the area.
The heaviest rain is likely to follow the center of the storm and extend just to the east, as moisture is pulled in from the warm Philippine Sea. It is in this region that the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 300 mm (12 inches) is most likely.
The steadiest downpours are expected to remain north and east of Manila, but should Ambo wobble once moving into Luzon, some heavier downpours may reach the suburbs as well as Quezon City and Caloocan.
Even as Ambo loses wind strength at the end of the weekend and moves off to the north of the Philippines, other land areas could be impacted. While most of the rain is likely to remain east of Taiwan, the southernmost islands of Japan may experience gusty winds and flooding downpours.
Vongfong, known as Ambo by the Philippines, continues to slowly approach the Philippines on the evening of Wednesday, May 13 (CIRA/RAMMB).
AccuWeather is predicting a slow start to the West Pacific basin for this tropical season. The West Pacific tropical season runs throughout the early winter, but most activity occurs between May and October.
Forecasters began monitoring a tropical low over the southern Philippine Sea over the weekend, when it brought heavy rain and thunderstorms to Palau.
Late in the day on Sunday, the low developed into a tropical depression and was given the name Ambo by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. The system was upgraded to a tropical storm on Tuesday then to a severe tropical storm on Wednesday. Ambo became the first named tropical system in the Northern Pacific Ocean of 2020.
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