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‘Vongfong’ heads northwest along Philippines coast

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‘Vongfong’ heads northwest along Philippines coast | The Thaiger
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The first potential typhoon for this year’s typhoon and storm season in the western Pacific now has a name. It’s been called ‘Vongfong’ and is is quickly becoming a threat to the Philippines. While the peak of the western Pacific typhoon season is late summer, there are frequent storms in the winter or early spring due to the warm waters of the Pacific.

Meteorologists say that this is the eighth-latest start to the typhoon season since 1950. The last time we had a later start was 2016 when the first named storm of the season didn’t arrive until the first week of July.

At the moment tropical storm Vongfong is located just east of the central Philippines and is slowly drifting northward. The storm is forecast to slowly turn to the west and begin to approach central Philippines land.

Vongfong is believed to steadily strengthen as it tracks northwest and closer to the Philippines’ coast.

While the tropical storm is expected to build in strength to become a typhoon, it is predicted that the impacts from the winds will be more localised around the landfall location. Heavy rains from the slow-moving system are expected to be more widespread.

With the Philippines located in the prime breeding grounds for storms in the tropical Pacific, they are familiar wth tropical systems and the annual typhoon season. In an average year they are impacted by eight to nine storms bu late-starting storm seasons tend to be slightly quieter, according to local meteorologists.

'Vongfong' heads northwest along Philippines coast | News by The Thaiger'Vongfong' heads northwest along Philippines coast | News by The Thaiger

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World

US ramps up presence in South China Sea along with coronavirus rhetoric

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US ramps up presence in South China Sea along with coronavirus rhetoric | The Thaiger

Over recent weeks US Navy ships and Air Force bombers have undertaken high profile missions aimed at telegraphic a clear message to China that the US military intends to maintain a presence in the region. The US is ramping up military pressure on China and tensions in the South China Sea. It’s accusing Beijing of leveraging the Covid-19 pandemic to extend its sphere of influence around the region.

The US Navy Pacific Fleet has also taken the unusual step of announcing that all of its submarines in the region were at sea conducting operations “in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region amidst the pandemic caused by the coronavirus.”

But the US-China tensions around the South China Sea, which extends from southern China, Vietnam’s east and southern coast, the Philippines and Malaysia, didn’t just start with the coronavirus. Tensions have been building for many years.

The military mobilisation comes as the US increases pressure diplomatically with US President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continuing their public rhetoric blaming Beijing for failing to stem the virus’s spread and not being transparent during the early stages of the outbreak. The Pentagon is now going further accusing China of exploiting the pandemic to gain military and economic advantages by expanding its influence over the South China Sea.

The US Navy Capt. Michael Kafka, a spokesperson for the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command, has repeated the White House narrative.

“The People’s Republic of China is attempting to use the regional focus on Covid to assertively advance its own interests.”

US Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of the Air Force Global Strike command, overseeing the bomber force in the area, ratcheted up the sabre-rattling even further.

“We have the capability and capacity to provide long range fires anywhere, anytime and can bring overwhelming firepower, even during the pandemic,”

At the end of April the US Navy again challenged China’s claims to the waters surrounding the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea, contested islands that the US has long said China is using to house weapons and military facilities.

US ramps up presence in South China Sea along with coronavirus rhetoric | News by The Thaiger
The South China Sea remains a crucial strategic location, home to some of the busiest shipping routes in the world as well as potential natural resource deposits such as oil and gas. There are multiple claimants to many of the islands and territories, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan. And China.

China has constructed outposts on man-made islands in the disputed area in recent years, installing military facilities and missile storage as part of a bid to exert control over the strategic waterways, according to US officials.

Last Wednesday a US Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS McCampbell, transited the Taiwan Strait. The US routinely traverses the Taiwan Strait but the Chinese military views the strategic waterway, separating China from Taiwan, as a priority area and often shadows US vessels that sail through the area.

Lt. Anthony Junco, a spokesperson for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, says Wednesday’s action was nothing unusual.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

US ramps up presence in South China Sea along with coronavirus rhetoric | News by The Thaiger

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Weather

Vongfong, aka. Ambo, barrels into Philippines’ east coast

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Vongfong, aka. Ambo, barrels into Philippines’ east coast | The Thaiger

Typhoon Vongfong (aka. ‘Ambo’ in the Philippines) has made landfall, forcing tens of thousands of people to quickly evacuate whilst in the middle of lockdown amid their local Covid-19 outbreak. The typhoon struck the Phillipines east coast islands around Samar at around noon yesterday. Around 200,000 people living in the coastal areas near Samar have been affected.

Vongfong packed winds of at least 185 kph -around the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane.

The coronavirus lockdown complicated the evacuation although similar evacuations for tropical storms is not unfamiliar for Philippines residents at this time of the year. More than 50 million people are currently living under strict lockdown rules imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte. In order to combat its spread, evacuation centers in the central Philippines will only be filled to half capacity, according to Reuters. Evacuees will be expected to wear face masks.

Vongfong is the first named tropical storm for the 2020 West Pacific storm season. The Philippines currently has 11,876 cases of the disease, according to worldometers.com.

The small, but intense, typhoon is tracking north up the eastern islands and will turn northwest and weaken as it again moves out to sea late on Saturday. Heavy rain is expected to continue over parts of the Philippines, including the vast Visayas and Bicol regions and northern Luzon island.

Due to the Philippines’ location in the tropical Pacific, the archipelago is hit by around 8 to 10 storms in an average year.

The only difference between a ‘hurricane’ and a ‘typhoon’ is the location where the storm occurs. In the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific, the term hurricane is used. In the Northwest Pacific and West Pacific, it is called a ‘typhoon’. In the southern hemisphere the same weather systems rotate in the opposite direction and are called ‘cyclones’.

Vongfong, aka. Ambo, barrels into Philippines' east coast | News by The Thaiger

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Weather

Typhoon Vongfong closes in on the Philippines, hits coast later today

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Typhoon Vongfong closes in on the Philippines, hits coast later today | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Winds increase as the storm heads out of the Pacific towards Philippines - Yahoo.com

The Philippines is bracing for the arrival of Typhoon Vongfong. During Tuesday and Wednesday, Vongfong strengthened from a modest tropical storm with winds of 95 kph to the equivalent of a major typhoon. Maximum sustained winds are now up to 195 kph and the typhoon continues to strengthen as it approaches the Philippines’ coast.

The only difference between a ‘hurricane’ and a ‘typhoon’ is the location where the storm occurs. In the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific, the term hurricane is used. In the Northwest Pacific and West Pacific, it is called a ‘typhoon’. In the southern hemisphere the same weather systems rotate in the opposite direction and are called ‘cyclones’.

This is the first named storm of the annual typhoon season in the West Pacific region.

It was just another tropical depression until Tuesday, and now Typhoon Vongfong will hammer the Philippines’ eastern islands and coastlines with the equivalent of a category 3 or 4 storm.

Typhoon Vongfong closes in on the Philippines, hits coast later today | News by The Thaiger

Weather models had difficulty forecasting the intensity of Vongfong, in part because of the small size of the weather system. So its intensity will be high but the major damage confined to a smaller footprint. The strong typhoon strength winds are only expected to extend about 25 kilometres from the centre.

While the damaging winds will only occur right in the immediate track of the typhoon, heavy rains will have a more widespread impact across eastern sections of the Philippines.

Rainfall of 100 to 250 mm will impact vast areas of the Visayas and Bicol Regions through northern Luzon. Vongfong will pass just offshore of Samar province today before making its first landfall in the Bicol region, north of Legazpi tonight or early Friday, Philippines time. After hitting the Bicol region, the storm will continue into northeastern Luzon on Friday evening whilst retaining most of its strength.

The Philippines are located in a prime breeding ground of the tropical west Pacific. In an average year the area is hit by eight to nine storms.

Typhoon Vongfong closes in on the Philippines, hits coast later today | News by The Thaiger

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