Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Philippines braces for Typhoon Mangkhut

Philippines braces for Typhoon Mangkhut

Ompong is the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, expected to peak at gusts of up to 270 kilometers per hour on Thursday before easing to still unsafe velocities as it approaches land, state weather bureau PAGASA said.

Hurricane Florence is packing maximum sustained wind speeds of 120 miles per hour, while Mangkhut is packing maximum sustained winds of 135 miles per hour, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) and the NHC.

After leaving the Philippines, the fast-moving storm is expected to blow toward southern China on Sunday if it maintains its course, forecasters said.

Forecasters said Typhoon Mangkhut, considered as the strongest this year, could hit northern Cagayan province on Saturday.

Almost 43 million people in the south-east Asian region could be affected, according to United Nations' Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

The Hong Kong government convened a meeting on Wednesday to review contingency plans.

Multiple Hong Kong airlines, including flag carrier Cathay Pacific, have announced they will waive charges for rebooking or re-routing flights arriving or departing the city during the worst of the storm. According to HKO, the storm is expected to skirt around 100 to 200 kilometers (62 to 124 miles) south of Hong Kong on Wednesday afternoon, bringing strong winds and rain.

Ompong's track threatens Metro Manila and most parts of northern Luzon, including the provinces of Bulacan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, and Zambales. In the province of Benguet and Kalinga, at least 136 people have been evacuated, according to the civil defence office.

About 20 cyclones pass through disaster-prone Philippines each year.

As the U.S. east coast braces for Hurricane Florence, an even stronger super typhoon is barreling down on southeast Asia, with Hong Kong and Macau square in its path.

The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year is threatening the farmlands in Northern Luzon just before the rice and corn harvest.

The storm may cause as much as 13.5 billion pesos in damage to crops, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol wrote on his Facebook account Tuesday.

The cyclone is now working its way through the Pacific with winds of up to 160mph. The center of Mangkhut will make its closest approach to Taipei on Sept 15 and Hong Kong on Sept 16.

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