MANILA, Philippines—Another storm is approaching Mindanao, but it’s too early to say whether the weather disturbance, internationally named “Bopha,” will become another “Sendong,” the storm that ravaged the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in 2011.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said the storm appeared to be heading for Mindanao or the Visayas based on its current track and could enter the Philippine area of responsibility on Sunday or Monday.
Bopha will be named “Pablo” if or when it enters the Philippine area of responsibility, the 16th tropical cyclone to visit Philippines this year, weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said. An average of 20 cyclones enter the Philippines every year.
Moving westward at 15 kilometers per hour (kph), the tropical storm was packing winds of 85 kph. It is expected to gather strength over the Pacific Ocean.
Aurelio said Pagasa could not yet predict how strong or intense the storm would be. “We cannot say as of now if it will be like Sendong, but any cyclone, whether typhoon, storm or depression, will be strong,” he said.
“Sendong” left more than 1,200 people dead and destroyed P1.3 billion in agriculture and and other property after dumping rains that spawned massive landslides and flash floods in Northern Mindanao on Dec. 16 and 17.
Residents were left largely unprepared as storms and typhoons enter Mindanao much less frequently than they do Luzon and the Visayas.
In January, the Manila Observatory reported that in the past 15 years, only six typhoons crossed Mindanao, while an average of one typhoon a year made landfall in the region between 1883 and 1900.