As of Friday, May 15, the ongoing Typhoon Vongfong (known locally as Ambo) has forced over 150,000 people to evacuate to storm shelters in affected areas of the country. The storm first made landfall on Thursday, May 14, in Eastern Samar near San Policarpo at 12:15 (local time) with wind speeds of up to 150 kph (93 mph) and gusts of 185 kph (115 mph). The storm has since tracked in a north-westerly direction, and made landfall most recently near San Andres (Quezon) at 07:45 on Friday. The storm has weakened moderately, with winds reduced to 125 kph (78 mph) and gusts of 165 kph (103 mph). Although Vongfong is expected to remain east of Manila, sustained heavy rainfall in the capital and its suburbs is likely to bring a risk of flooding and landslides in the near term.
Philippine authorities struggled to organize the evacuations due to restrictions enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and faced difficulties ensuring social distancing measures were followed in crowded storm shelters.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) forecasts that Vongfong will continue moving north through the Philippines and has raised alert levels to three (the highest in a three-tier scale) in Quezon, Rizal, Laguna, eastern Bulacan, and southern Nueva Ecija provinces. Level two alerts have been issued for most of the rest of Luzon. Vongfong is expected to exit the Philippines by Monday, May 18.
Power outages have been reported in Northern Samar and Sorosgon, though electricity is expected to be restored late Friday afternoon. Buildings and boats have been destroyed, and other infrastructure including roads and power lines flooded and damaged. No fatalities have yet been reported.
Associated flooding, landslides, and transportation and business disruptions are anticipated, as well as disruptions to power and communication services 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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