‘Butchoy’ brings more rains in Luzon, Eastern VisayasBy Kristine L. Alave
INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines— Despite not making any landfall, Tropical Storm “Butchoy” moves up stronger and expected to bring more rains to Luzon and Eastern Visayas.
Based on the weather bureau’s forecast as of 4:00 a.m. Saturday, “Butchoy” was estimated at 480 km east northeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar with maximum sustained winds of 110 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 140 kph. It is forecast to move north northwest at 15 kph. Southwest monsoon will affect Luzon.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) posted on its 5 a.m. advisory that “Luzon will experience occasional rains while Eastern Visayas will have cloudy skies with scattered to widespread rainshowers and thunderstorms, which may trigger flash floods and landslides.
“The rest of the country will be mostly cloudy with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms.
“Moderate to strong winds blowing from the southwest to south will prevail over Luzon and coming from the southwest to west over the rest of the country with moderate to rough seas.”
On Friday, Robert Sawi, chief of Pagasa’s forecasting division, said storms derive their energy from the sea. The longer a storm stays over the sea, the stronger it gets, he said.
This may explain Butchoy’s slower pace and increased strength and size, which had made weather forecasters nervous.
Aldczar Aurelio, a Pagasa forecaster, said there was an “80 percent possibility” that Butchoy could further intensify and become a typhoon.
“It still has a long way to travel [over the] sea,” Aurelio said Friday.
He noted that with wind strength of 110 kph, Butchoy was nearing the threshold for typhoon classification.
Under Pagasa’s system, typhoons have at least 118 kph maximum sustained winds near the center.
Forecasters said a high-pressure area that extended to the Bicol region bore down on Butchoy, slowing down its northwesterly move.
“Once the high-pressure area weakens, it will move faster northwest,” Pagasa said.
Although Butchoy became more ferocious, Pagasa said it would spare the Philippines.
Aurelio said models showed that Butchoy would continue to track northwest and would not make landfall in the country.
Also on Friday, Pagasa proceeded to raise public storm signal No. 1 over Eastern Samar. “If it moves westward, at least they are prepared,” Aurelio said.
Although the Philippines will escape the wrath of Butchoy, the country has to prepare for heavy rains and gusty winds until Tuesday next week.
Pagasa said Butchoy would enhance the southwest monsoon over the next few days.
Aurelio said there would be frequent rains in parts of Luzon such as Mindoro, Bataan, Cavite, Batangas and Pampanga provinces, and Metro Manila. Strong winds will whip Eastern Visayas and Bicol regions, he added.
Local disaster response teams should be on alert for flash floods and landslides, Pagasa said.
It added that ships and travelers should stay home for now.
“Fishing boats and other small seacraft are advised not to venture out into the seaboards of Luzon, Visayas and Eastern Mindanao due to big waves generated by the effects of the southwest monsoon and Tropical Storm Butchoy,” Pagasa said.
Pagasa said Butchoy was expected to be 330 km east of Borongan, Eastern Samar, on Saturday. On Sunday, it will be 410 km east-southeast of Aurora. Butchoy will be 320 km east of Batanes by Monday.
Worsening weather forced the Navy and the Coast Guard on Friday to suspend the search for survivors of the sinking of the ferry MV Joecell 2 off El Nido, Palawan province, on Tuesday night.
Commodore Alex Lopez, head of the Task Group Malampaya, said the search would resume once the weather improved.
The latest Coast Guard count put the number of missing passengers at five. Seven passengers had been confirmed dead, and 56 had been rescued.
The Office of Civil Defense in Eastern Visayas (OCD-8) called on all local disaster councils yon Friday to alert as Butchoy neared the region.
Ben Linde, OCD-8 information officer, said the office issued an advisory to all disaster councils to assure them that there would be no casualty and less damage when heavy rains brought by Butchoy hit Eastern Visayas.
Mayor Annaiz Kwan of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, said that while she was praying that Butchoy would not hit her town, she activated the disaster council just the same.
Kwan said schools and barangay halls were ready to be used as shelters and rescue teams and relief operations were ready to move.
In the south, authorities on Friday continued to scour rough seas in search for dozens of fishermen who had been reported missing since Monday.
The sea searches have resulted in the rescue of 64 more fishermen, including seven who went missing in foul weather off Davao del Sur province on Monday.
Rey Caballero, chair of the disaster council of Digos City in Davao del Sur, said the seven fishermen were found clinging to their capsized boats in waters off Don Marcelino town on Thursday.
Caballero said the boats had been drifting toward the open sea for three days when rescuers found them. The fishermen, who went without food or water all that time, were now recovering, Caballero said.
‘No signs of life’
In Surigao del Norte, Lt. Joel Simo-ag, local Coast Guard station commander, on Friday said a rescue team continued looking for three fishermen whose boat sank near Basul Island off Surigao City on Thursday.
“So far, we’ve found no signs of life, but we’re not giving up,” Simo-ag told the Inquirer.
He said the Coast Guard team was going to adjacent islands in the Basul area where the fishermen could have been washed ashore.
In Sarangani province, Ben Solarte, action officer of the provincial disaster council, said Navy and Coast Guard search-and-rescue vessels continued looking for fishermen whose boats failed to return on Monday.
The disaster office said only 37 fishermen from Maasim town remained missing as of Friday afternoon, down from 61 reported earlier by Solarte.
Solarte said the rescuers were scouring Sarangani Bay for the missing fishermen.
The disaster office said 307 fishermen had been rescued. It said 765 families, or 3,825 people, were displaced by floods that hit four villages in Glan. The town mayor, Victor James Yap, led the distribution of relief.
Earlier, more than 270 fishermen were rescued as they struggled to return to land.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported on Friday that more than 18,000 families were evacuated to safer grounds to save them from floods caused by heavy rains that a low-pressure system over Mindanao induced on Monday.
Benito Ramos, NDRRMC executive director, told a radio station in Butuan City that local officials had been directed to monitor the situation and evacuate residents of their areas if needed as Butchoy entered the country.
Pombaen Karon-Kader, assistant social welfare secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said her office had talked with education officials about using schools as evacuation centers should floods hit the region.
“We have enough stocks of food,” she said. With reports from Redempto Anda, Inquirer Southern Luzon; Joey Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas; and Franklin Caliguid, Orlando Dinoy, Jeoffrey Maitem and Aquiles Z. Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao