Disaster officials warned the public Thursday not to be fooled by the sunny weather ahead of the entry of Typhoon “Ompong.”
“The reports earlier said the weather was sunny but let’s not be complacent,” said Edgar Posadas, spokesman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, speaking in Filipino. “Remember with Yolanda, it was hot and sunny the day before, but the next day, there was the deluge.”
“We are seeing how strong this is, with a diameter of 900 kilometers. If I’m not mistaken, Yolanda was just 600 kilometers,” he said.
Posadas urged people, particularly those in the typhoon’s expected path, to remain vigilant.
As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the weather bureau spotted “Ompong” at 560 km northeast of Borongan City, Eastern Samar, packing maximum sustained winds of 205 kph near the center and gustiness of 255 kph.
Some 24 areas were placed under Signal No. 1 as the typhoon moved west-northwest at 25 kph.
By Friday afternoon, it was expected to be 360 km east of Casiguran, Aurora, and by Saturday afternoon, 75 kilometers west of Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.
“Ompong” is expected to exit the country’s area of responsibility Sunday.
Catholic churches began reciting a prayer for deliverance from calamities Thursday as the country braced for “Ompong.”
Fr. Jerome Secillano of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Public Affairs Committee said the prayer will be recited until the threat of calamity has passed.
“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 dangerous velocities as it approaches land, the state weather bureau Pagasa said.
Preparations for the typhoon have begun in different parts of the country as early as Wednesday with those residing in risk areas fleeing to makeshift centers.
The storm is expected to make landfall in northern Cagayan on Saturday morning and bring heavy rains within its 900-km diameter.
The Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council called on local government units and member-agencies to aim for zero casualties during the typhoon.
Director Romulo Cabantac Jr., MMDRMC senior vice chairman, said the goal could be achieved by carrying out the necessary disaster preparations before the typhoon hit.
“All 17 LGUs in Metro Manila, concerned agencies are all prepared. Manpower and equipment are already prepositioned ahead of the typhoon, which is likely to be felt on Friday,” said Cabantac during a pre-disaster risk assessment meeting.
Pagasa said Metro Manila would experience light to moderate rain showers and gusty winds Friday.
Meanwhile, Michael Salalima of the Metro Manila Development Authority urged council members and disaster management teams coordinate with Pagasa for timely weather updates and the MMDA’s Metrobase Command Center.
The Metrobase houses 24-hour Crisis Monitoring and Management Center, which serves as the primary headquarters during calamity, emergency and other crisis situations in Metro Manila.
“The Metrobase can help in ensuring timely and widest dissemination of vital information during typhoon,” said Salalima.
Salalima said MMDA personnel and disaster-related resources were placed on standby as early as Wednesday.
“The MMDA is ready to deploy anytime personnel and equipment and provide assistance to the public during rescue and evacuation operations,” Salalima said.
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