Typhoon Vongfong, locally named Ompong, has been classified under Category 5: Super Typhoon status by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).
Since Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, Ompong is the strongest tropical cyclone to approach Asia.
In comparison, Typhoon Yolanda, which remains the strongest tropical cyclone that recently battered the country in recent history (2013), reached maximum sustained winds of 235 kilometers per hour while Ompong’s peak is at 215 kilometers per hour.
In the Philippines, no Public Storm Warning Signal has been raised as the typhoon has no direct effect on the country, aside from enhancing the Northeasterly wind flow, bringing rough to very rough sea conditions in the northern and eastern seaboards of Luzon and Visayas.
Even while maintaining its impressive maximum sustained winds for days and going nowhere near the Philippine landmass after spending hours over the sea, Ompong is not intensifying because according to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Aldczar Aurelio, cold and dry air from the higher latitudes are beginning to join in the cyclone’s circulation. Dry air is not conducive to cyclones as weather disturbances feed off warm and moist air to intensify.
Furthermore, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) states that tropical cyclones are strongest when in the tropics. As they move towards the subtropical region and the temperate zone, they start to gradually weaken.
Why Ompong is slow-moving
Aurelio says there are two High Pressure Areas (HPAs) on each side of the typhoon, its ridge hampering its northward movement. When the extension of the anti-cyclone recedes, Ompong will continue its sail towards Japan.
At 13 kilometers per hour moving northward, Bagyong ‘Ompong’ is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Saturday.
Currently, over open water, Ompong fails to have a major impact on the Philippines.
Over Taiwan, its southern portions, which are included in the Philippine Area of Responsibility, might experience strong winds and cloudy skies with light to moderate rains, Aurelio says.
However, Japan is another matter. While recovering from the recent cyclone Phanphone that slammed rains on Central Japan, Super Typhoon Vongfong threatens to make landfall in Japan in the following days.
According to JTWC, based on the current forecast track of Vongfong, the typhoon is moving near or over mainland Japan, which include Tokyo and other major cities. However, the typhoon may weaken considerably as it moves closer and begins to affect the country this weekend until early next week.
The strong winds of Vongfong might also batter Ryukyu Island, including Okinawa this weekend. Come Monday, effects will reach Kyushu, Shikoku and later in Honshu, including Tokyo and Osaka.
Typhoon Ompong is the 15th tropical cyclone this year, and the second this October.
The name Vongfong was contributed by Macau, China, which means wasp or putakti in Tagalog.
It has been used three times in tropical storm category in 2002 and 2008, and in typhoon category this year.
Sources: JMA, JTWC, PAGASA