Issued (0430 UTC) 1230pm PhT 011715
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Mekkhala (Bagyong Amang) has rapidly intensified overnight into a Category 1 Typhoon. The system is about to make landfall in Samar and was last located approximately 75kph northeast of Borongan City or about 140km northeast of Tacloban City. Maximum sustained winds are at 130kph with gusts of up to 175kph. Typhoon Mekkhala is moving west northwestward at 20kph.
As of 11am this morning, PAGASA has raised Public Storm Warning Signal #2 for Catanduanes, Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Masbate, Burias Island, Ticao Island, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Leyte, Biliran.
Signal #1 for Camarines Norte, Quezon, Polilio Island, Laguna, Rizal, Batangas, Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Southern Leyte, Northern Cebu, Cebu City, Bantayan Island, Camotes Island, Northern Iloilo, Northern part of Negros Occidental, Capiz, Aklan, and Dinagat Island.
IR Image from NRLMRY
Latest satellite image shows substantial improvement with Mekkhala's appearance. Weaker wind shear and better outflow pattern led to a rapid intensification overnight. An eyewall is nearing completion and the central dense overcast continue to have strong convective activity. Thankfully, the system is nearing landfall and should no longer intensify significantly. However, the bands of moderate to heavy rains will still affect many islands in the region.
Forecast Track (NOT OFFICIAL!)
Typhoon Mekkhala (Bagyong Amang) is forecast to make landfall in the Northern Samar/Eastern Samar area, near the town of Oras. We're expecting landfall to occur in about one to 2 hours from now. Heavy rains are already affecting Samar and Leyte, including the city of Tacloban where Pope Francis I is currently visiting. The stormy weather has prompted the Pontiff to leave Tacloban much earlier than scheduled to return to Manila.
Typhoon Mekkhala will then move into the Bicol Region and should weaken to a Tropical Storm later tonight. Stormy conditions will shift northwestward although parts of Visayas should still expect widespread rains throughout tonight. Southern Luzon and nearby islands will begin to feel the effects of Mekkhala tonight and into tomorrow.
We'll continue to keep you posted and we'll have an in-depth Video Update later this afternoon. Please heed the warnings of your local officials and always be on top of this storm. Stay safe!