Approaching typhoon targets Northern Luzon

10/16/2010 - NORTHERN Luzon provinces are expected to bear the brunt of the strongest storm so far that would visit the country this year as the state weather bureau warned residents over possible flashfloods and landslides.

Nathaniel Servando, deputy administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), said tropical storm Megi is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility between 12 midnight and 2 a.m. on Saturday.

“We expect it to enter the country at those times and it has a 300-kilometer radius, meaning, it would affect a big area like Luzon," he said.

"It is still too far to affect the country but on Sunday afternoon, we will start to feel its strong winds and rains. The storm would likely make a landfall on Cagayan and Isabela areas on Monday morning,” he added.

Servando noted they are expecting the storm to intensity into a typhoon, carrying winds of up to 150 kph, which is normally associated to strong winds, floods/flashfloods, storm surge, and landslides.

The weather official said Megi will be bringing heavy rains between 50 to 65 millimeters based on satellite images.

“But we have to wait for the typhoon to be around 250 kilometers near our Doppler radar station in Aurora so that we can have a better estimate its rainfall,” said Servando.

In its 5 p.m. bulletin Friday, the storm was spotted at 1,200 kilometers east of Southern Luzon with maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 150 kph.

MANILA. Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council asks the public to prepare for Megi or Juan once it enters the Philippine area of responsibility. (Virgil Lopez)
Today, Saturday, Central and Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will experience mostly cloudy skies with scattered rainshower and thunderstorms.

Moderate to strong winds blowing from the northeast will prevail over Northern and Eastern Luzon with its coastal wabes ranging from moderate to rough.

The 10th storm to enter the country will be codenamed Juan.

Servando said they are not ruling out the possibility of Megi changing its course and hit Metro Manila instead, as in the case of tropical storm Basyang last July (international name: Conson).

“We compare our projections to other five meteorological agencies and so far, four agencies including Pagasa estimated a landfall to happen over Cagayan and Isabela on Monday morning,” he said.

The storm might exit in the western coast of Luzon on Tuesday afternoon, according to the weather official.

Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (formerly National Disaster Coordinating Council), said he ordered regional directors in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) to prepare and take precautionary measures for the upcoming typhoon.

“We have also alerted the Disaster Risk Response Task Force in those areas and the two infantry divisions of the Philippine army in Luzon. Also, the models showed that it’s moving on westerly direction, that’s why we alerted concerned agencies in Metro Manila and the Bicol Region.”

Pagasa, for its part, warned fishermen not to venture over the eastern and northern coasts of Luzon while travelers are advised not to travel starting Sunday morning, particularly in landslide prone areas of northern and eastern Luzon.

“We also advise our farmers to monitor weather updates because it’s the harvest season already. We want them to be alerted so that they can harvest their produce even before the typhoon comes in,” said Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo.

Meantime, Pagasa officer-in-charge Graciano Yumul announced they will use the micro-blogging site Twitter to give hourly updates and necessary information about the typhoon’s track.

“Aside from giving hourly updates on the location of the typhoon and weather bulletins every six hours in our website, we will also tap Twitter so that we can give updated information to the public. We will activate as soon as possible,” said Yumul.

Removal of billboards ordered

As the country braces for the storm, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said billboards owners must take down their ads along Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue (EDSA) and other thoroughfares.

“We are asking all advertisers and billboard owners to take down all big billboards in preparation anytime soon,” said MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino.

During the onslaught of typhoon “Milenyo” in 2006, a total of 21 billboards in Metro Manila were toppled by strong winds and heavy downpour.

The MMDA chief said they are also coordinating with the local government units especially those located in waterways to ensure that their constituents are properly informed of any impending danger.

Earlier, Tolentino said the government, the MMDA in particular, is more prepared to cope today with an “Ondoy-like” calamity.

“Mas handa ngayon at mas malawak ang kaalaman ng mga mamamayan. Kahit nga sa Marikina ay mas prepared sila,” Tolentino said. (Sun Star)

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