SUPER TYPHOON OMPONG Draws Near

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You know Mother Nature is on a serious mean streak if there seems to be a calamity on the verge of happening in more than one place around the world. Seeing as it is still in the middle of the year’s typhoon season, that means some serious weather disturbances inbound. In the Atlantic, the US Eastern seaboard is bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Florence; while in the Pacific, the same can be said of the Philippines and China. That is because a Super Typhoon stronger than Florence is about to make life miserable for our country and its neighbors.

CNN has it that Super Typhoon Mangkhut is now as strong as a Category 5 Atlantic Hurricane, but its wind speed of no less than 252 kilometers per hour puts even Florence to shame. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has given ST Mangkhut the local name of “Ompong”, and has already passed by the US territory of Guam, with the expected power loss and flooding, before moving on through the western Pacific and into the Philippine Area of Responsibility. CNN meteorologist Michael Guy notes that within the next 24 to 48 hours Ompong can still intensify.

A current plot of the super typhoon’s path has Ompong going through the Luzon Strait, comprising the Channels of Babuyan (between the Luzon mainland and Babuyan Islands), Balintang (between the Babuyans and Batanes) and finally Bashi (between Batanes and Taiwan). That still, according to Guy, means the outer edges of the typhoon will graze the northern part of Luzon. According to the Department of Agriculture, Ompong is bound to ruin crops of rice and corn in the affected regions, causing upwards of $250 million in financial losses. Local governments of Luzon’s northernmost provinces are now deploying security personnel and preparing relief goods against the storm.

Once Ompong passes the Luzon Strait however, it is expected to make landfall in southern China, particularly striking the Pearl River Delta with the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau on either side of it. The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System fears that Ompong/Magkhut will wreak havoc on these densely populated locations; added to potential victims in the Philippines, the number of affected people in the GDACS estimate is around 43.3 million. Already, several Hong Kong-based airlines like Cathay Pacific have announced their waving of flight rerouting or rebooking charges in light of the approaching super typhoon.

If there is any comfort, that is the fact that Ompong will weaken in strength as it approaches Luzon, going from an Atlantic category 5 level equivalent to category 4.

Image courtesy of PAGASA

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