Typhoon Vongfong, also known locally as Ambo, made landfall near the Eastern Samar province town of San Policarpo on Thursday, May 14, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of families in coastal communities in the region. The storm first made landfall at 12:15 (local time) with wind speeds of up to 150 kph (93 mph) and gusts of up to 185 kph (115 mph), with no immediate reports of casualties. At least 515 families were evacuated from the towns of Maninila, Tandarora, and Muladbucad Grande in the Albay area ahead of the typhoon, with thousands of others expected to make their own way to evacuation shelters as the storm passes over the island. Local authorities have expressed concerns that it will be difficult to enforce social distancing and other coronavirus disease (COVID-19) mitigation measures in local schools and churches designated as evacuation shelters, which are typically crowded during the passing of tropical storms.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Vongfong is expected to affect the provinces of Northern Samar, Masbate, Sorsogon, and Catanduanes on Thursday, May 14, bringing heavy rainfall and destructive winds. The storm is forecast to reach the main island of Luzon on Friday, May 15, making its second landfall in the Bicol region before tracking north through the island on Saturday, May 16. Although the storm is expected to remain east of Manila, sustained heavy rainfall, including in the capital and its suburbs, is likely to bring a risk of flooding and landslides across much of Luzon island in the near term.
Associated transport and business disruptions are possible during the passing of the storm system in the coming hours and days.
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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