THE Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) will be closed to operations when Typhoon Ompong (international code name Mangkhut), with the potential of developing into a super typhoon, strikes the country.
Airport General Manager Ed Monreal announced this on Wednesday afternoon shortly after meeting with members of the Airline Operators Council (AOC).
Monreal told the AOC to forward their advisories regarding planned cancelations or delays in flight schedules, “so we can disseminate the information to all passengers and employees who will be affected by the typhoon.”
He said the “Passengers Bill of Rights will be strictly implemented during the closure of the airport.”
He also appealed to the airline operators to coordinate with the Naia in advance if they will conduct “recovery flights.” This reminder arose from the chaos that ensued when dozens of “unslotted” flights clogged the Naia terminals recently as airlines sought to make up for the 36-hour airport shutdown caused by the overshooting of runway 24 by a Xiamen Airways plane that struggled to land during heavy rains.
Heavy to intense rains, strong winds and storm surges threaten Luzon as Typhoon Ompong entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Wednesday afternoon. In its latest update, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Ompong may reach a peak intensity of 220 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 270 kph on Thursday (September 13).
In a press conference on Wednesday, Pagasa Administrator Dr. Vicente Malano said the typhoon is expected to make landfall in Cagayan province on Saturday, and warned residents near coastal areas to evacuate early as storm surges are expected to reach as high as 6 meters.
Ompong could still not be categorized as a super typhoon but has the potential to become one. The super typhoon category is at 225 kph, Malano said.
He said very strong winds, storm surges over coastal areas and heavy to intense rains are expected in Cagayan and Isabela and the rest of Northern Luzon.
“The southwest monsoon plus rains brought by the typhoon could reach or even surpass Ondoy levels. Ompong’s winds are strong and so we are not just looking at the possible flooding but also storm surges once it makes landfall in Cagayan,” he said, in a mix of English and Filipino.
He also belied information circulating on social media that the typhoon could bring storm surges as high as 15 meters, saying there is no history of storm surges of that magnitude. During the onslaught of Supertyphoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) in November 2013, the recorded storm surge was 7 to 8 meters, he said.
Pagasa weather forecaster Rene Paciente said the typhoon’s peripheral effect would be felt in Catanduanes and several provinces in the eastern section of the country on Thursday.
The typhoon also enhances the southwest monsoon or habagat, which would bring occasional moderate to heavy rains on Wednesday in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao and the provinces of Siquijor, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, Dinagat Island and Lanao del Sur.