China and the Philippines are both bracing for a large typhoon that is heading its way, prompting thousands of evacuations. Typhoon Mangkhut is the strongest typhoon of 2018 and thousands have left the most vulnerable areas.
Although the storm will impact both countries, Typhoon Ompong--the name it will be given once it enters the Philipphine Area of Responsibility (PAR)--is strongest of 15 storms that have hit the country this year alone. This is no doubt because the word mangkhut is a Thai word referring to the tropical mangosteen fruit.
Typhoon "#OmpongPH" maintains its course as it moves closer to Isabela and Cagayan— PAGASA-DOST (@dost_pagasa) September 14, 2018
TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING SIGNAL
TCWS#4 (Winds of 171 - 220 kph is expected in at least 12 hrs)
Cagayan, northern Isabela, Apayao, Abra
-Wave Height: (Open Sea) more than 14.0 meters pic.twitter.com/dLTBPFlOer
Here's what we know about the powerful storm so far:
--> It's classified as a super typhoon, which means at some point it reaches a maximum sustained 1-minute surface wind of minimum 65 m/s, which equates to roughly 241 km/h.
--> Its wind gusts are equivalent to a Category 5 Hurricane.
--> The two Phillipines regions of Cagayan and northern Isabella stands to receive the biggest impact.
--> The massive storm measures more than 885 km wide.
--> There is a possibility that the storm may be downgraded to the equivalent of a Category 3 storm when it touches down on Saturday.
--> The latest recorded speed of the storm making its way across the Pacific is 255 km/h according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
The storm is expected to arrive on Saturday and do the majority of its damage. Manuel Mamba, Governor of the Cagayan Province echoed the sentiments of President Duterte's decision to evacuate: "The weather here is still good but we're moving them now because it's very important that when it comes, people will be away from peril," he shared with CNBC.
A dilemma of harvest or flee for local farmers & fishers
In the past few days, hundreds of schools have been closed, and even more flights canceled. Still, the bigger challenge is devising a strategy for the farmers and fishers who earn from the land and water.
For local government, this adds a new dimension to their usual three-fold challenge: (1) organizing evacuations, (2) informing and later convincing the general population that it would be in their best interest to abandon certain areas, and (3) planning the amount of international aid that may be needed by making an educated guess about the impact of the typhoon. "It would depend on the severity of the crisis," President Rodrigo Duterte said. "If it flattens everything, maybe we need to have some help."
Also, as history shows us, those living in more geographically and economically vulnerable areas lose the most. "It will bring destruction. They [poorer fishing communities] are the ones greatly affected. Even moderate winds can topple their houses," said regional civil defense official Dante Balao.
After the storm cuts a path across the nation on Saturday afternoon, it is expected to continue on to Hong Kong on Sunday.