Residents of the Visayas and Mindanao woke up to a wet and windy Christmas Tuesday as a new storm emerged in the Pacific and threatened to deal a double whammy to a country still reeling from Typhoon “Pablo.”
A low-pressure area developed into a tropical depression and later intensified into a storm—named “Quinta”—contrary to predictions by local weather forecasters.
Quinta (international name: “Wukong”) was packing peak winds of 75 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts up to 90 kph, prompting the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) to raise storm warnings.
“Davao region is not expected to feel the impact of Quinta much because the storm is heading toward the Visayas, unlike Typhoon Pablo, which moved lower south,” said Pagasa forecaster Vic Manalo III.
The storm, the 17th to hit the country this year, was forecast to move westward at 24 kph. Its eye was spotted 25 km east of Mac Arthur in Leyte, according to the 11 p.m. Pagasa bulletin.
Placed under Signal No. 2 were Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, northern Cebu, Camotes Island, Biliran and Dinagat province.
Signal No. 1 was hoisted over Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Albay, Masbate including Ticao Island, Romblon, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Negros provinces, Bohol, Siquijor, the rest of Cebu, Siargao, Surigao del Norte and Camiguin.
Pagasa said Quinta would likely make landfall over Leyte Wednesday morning. “Since the storm is moving toward the Visayas, which is a group of islands, it will probably make several landfalls before exiting into the West Philippine Sea,” Manalo said.
Quinta is expected to spawn heavy to intense rainfall within its 350-km diameter, at 10-20 millimeters per hour.
Residents in low-lying and mountainous areas were alerted against possible landslides and flash floods. Travel by small fishing boats in the seaboards of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao could also be risky, Pagasa said.
Undersecretary Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said civil defense offices had been placed on red alert.
“In about 22 hours, the storm will make its landfall,” Ramos told a news conference. “This will cause flash floods and landslides. Our people still have time to evacuate, but we give the local government units the discretion to make the call,” he said. No evacuations however have been reported so far.
The new storm comes even as search and rescue efforts continue for 834 people missing from Pablo’s lethal onslaught on Dec. 4, which claimed 1,067 lives, mostly in the Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, according to NDRRMC.
Damage to agriculture, infrastructure and private properties has reached almost P37 billion, the NDRRMC said.
Ramos said the NDRRMC had been on red alert since Pablo struck and this has not been lowered because “retrieval, search and relief operations” in the typhoon-ravaged areas were still ongoing.
He said that just like with “Pablo,” the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command under Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia remained at the forefront of providing assistance in areas in Quinta’s path, supported by other military and police units, and local governments.
Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commandant, on Tuesday placed all his units on full alert for possible rescue operations. He also warned against small vessels venturing out to sea.
Most of those missing from Pablo’s fury were fishermen who set sail in spite of the PCG warnings.
In Cebu City, around 870 passengers were stranded after the Coast Guard yesterday barred 16 vessels from leaving the part.
Two flights to and from Roxas City in Capiz were also canceled Tuesday. With reports from Jerry E. Esplanada, Jerome Aning and Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas