Tropical Storm Vongfong, known locally as Ambo, is moving through the northern regions of the Philippines on Saturday, May 16. The storm weakened from a typhoon to a tropical storm overnight (local time) from Friday, May 15, into Saturday as it moved up Luzon. Heavy rain is forecast to hit the Ilocos region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, and the northern portions of Aurora and Zambales. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has issued tropical cyclone warnings on Saturday for multiple areas in northern Luzon; however, previous storm alerts have been lifted for Metro Manila and Calabarzon. Flooding, landslides, damaging winds, and associated transportation disruptions are possible over the coming days.
Recovery efforts are ongoing in central and southern parts of the Philippines following the passage of Vongfong. Over 140,000 people were evacuated from their homes on Friday. According to initial reports, houses were destroyed in Eastern Samar province and at least one person was killed after being hit by debris. Emergency officials reported that evacuation efforts were further complicated by current restrictions enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Some shelters can only be run at half capacity to meet social distancing measures.
As of 08:00 on Saturday, Tropical Storm Vongfong is located near the coastal waters of Santa Cruz in Ilocos Sur province (map here). The storm has maximum sustained winds of 75 kph (46 mph) with gusts up to 115 kph (71 mph). Vongfong is moving north-northwest at 20 kph (12 mph) and is expected to turn northeast and exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility by Monday, May 18.
Individuals in the Philippines are advised to monitor local weather reports, anticipate lingering transportation and business disruptions, confirm flight reservations, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters; 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult.
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