MANILA, Philippines—The Batanes group of islands bore the brunt of Typhoon “Odette” on Thursday, prompting the weather bureau to place it under Storm Signal No. 4, the highest storm alert, and warning the region of torrential rains and destructive gusts.
Storm Signals Nos. 3 to 1 were also hoisted over several other places in northern Luzon as the typhoon accelerated and gained more strength, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, the eye of the typhoon was observed some 220 kilometers east of Basco, Batanes, Pagasa said in an advisory. It was packing peak winds of 205 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 240 kph.
Pagasa predicted that Odette would continue moving west-northwest at 19 kph. The storm is seen bringing heavy to intense rainfall (from 10 to 20 millimeters per hour) within its 900-km diameter.
Residents in low-lying and mountainous areas under storm signals were alerted to the possibility of flash floods and landslides. Likewise, those living in coastal areas under Signal Nos. 2-4 were warned about storm surges.
In Ivana, Batanes, volunteers from the villages trooped to the fields Friday to secure livestock and to pick out mature crops in preparation for the onslaught of the typhoon although the southern islands have yet to feel its presence.
Residents woke up to a bright morning and were surprised to learn that Storm Signal No. 4 had been raised over the northernmost province.
A slight rain fell yesterday afternoon over Ivana town as well as the southern islands, followed by a heavy downpour that sent the volunteers scurrying back to their homes.
The capital town Basco had been experiencing strong rains and winds earlier in the day. Basco is 14 km from Ivana.
Heeding the weather alert, Batanes Gov. Vicente Gato suspended work and classes throughout the province, but people here spent the free time to check on their fields.
Antonio Ponce, 45, said he harvested some of his vegetables as food stock, should the typhoon prove to be as furious as predicted. He said he also stored his pigs in a safe place to make sure the animals won’t be taken by floods.
Evangeline Agudo, head teacher of the Ivana National High School, went to Basco yesterday despite the storm warning. Fellow teachers had advised her to postpone the trip but she insisted because of an obligation, she said.
Friday afternoon, many stores closed for the day and most people stayed indoors.
In Isabela province, operators of the Magat Dam in Ramon town opened two floodgates and released 655 cubic meters of water per second.
Saturnino Tenedor, Magat Dam instrumentation and flood forecasting section chief, said the water level at the dam reached 190.92 meters above sea level (masl). The dam’s spilling level is 193 masl.
Rain raised river levels, prompting authorities to close the Cabagan-Santa Maria and Santo Tomas-Cabagan bridges to motorists as a precaution. But the Alicaocao Bridge in Cauayan City remained open to traffic.
Signal No. 4 indicates wind speeds of 185 kph within 12 hours; Signal No. 3 of 101-185 kph within 18 hours; Signal No. 2 of 61-100 kph within 24 hours; and Signal No. 1 of 30-60 kph within 36 hours.
The places under Signal No. 3 were the Calayan and Babuyan groups of islands; under Signal No. 2, Cagayan, Apayao and Ilocos Norte; and under Signal No. 1, Abra, Kalinga, Isabela, northern Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Benguet, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province and Ifugao.
Odette will continue to enhance the southwest monsoon that will bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms over Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon and Western Visayas, Pagasa said.
Residents in these areas are advised to watch for possible flash floods and landslides.
Sea travel is risky in the seaboards of Luzon and Visayas, Pagasa said. With a report from AFP