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100,000 flee ‘Pedring’

Typhoon stronger, faster than ‘Ondoy’

PAGASA-DOST MTSAT-EIR Satellite Image for 5 a.m., 27 September 2011

The timing could not have been more eerie— and the fear was back.

Two years to the day after Tropical Storm “Ondoy” drowned hundreds in a massive flood in Metro Manila, a fiercer storm—Typhoon “Pedring”— on Monday barreled its way into Luzon and pummeled the country’s eastern coast with winds of 140 kilometers per hour near the center.

Authorities ordered more than 100,000 people to flee their homes, shut down schools, halted all ferry and fishing boat operations in several provinces, and canceled 39 domestic flights.

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Weathermen warned of floods and possible landslides.

Pedring, with winds gusting up to 170 kph, was expected to make landfall in Casiguran, Aurora province, early Tuesday, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

If there were no changes in its track, Pedring might also hit Central Luzon, the country’s agricultural basket, and sideswipe densely populated Metro Manila, with its 14 million people.

The Department of Education (DepEd) suspended classes in all public and private kindergarten, elementary and high schools in Metro Manila at noon Monday.

In an announcement Monday night, the DepEd said classes at those levels would remain suspended Tuesday in Metro Manila, as well as in Antipolo City and Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya and Cagayan provinces.

Meanwhile, Pagasa administrator Nathaniel Servando made no recommendations to suspend classes in the tertiary level.

“We leave it to the discretion of the universities if they will suspend classes in college,” he said.

2 years ago

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It was also on September 26 two years ago when Ondoy pounded Metro Manila and nearby provinces, triggering the worst flooding the metropolis had seen in nearly 40 years and leaving 464 people dead.

On Monday, as rain again pelted Metro Manila, people at a Mass in Marikina City—where houses were submerged during the Ondoy nightmare—began to worry, including former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca, a guest of the city.

“When it began to rain, I said, ‘Okay, we are being reminded of Ondoy.’ When it began to pound harder, I said, ‘God, we got the message,’” Padaca told the Inquirer. She said the people of Marikina had had enough of typhoons.

The message was clear to Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive director of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) national secretariat for social action.

“The coincidence is a reminder for us not to be complacent, but to be always vigilant in preparing for any calamity,” Gariguez said. He stressed the need “to be proactive in protecting the environment, in saving our remaining forest to prevent humanly induced disasters.”

16th cyclone

As of 6 p.m Monday, no casualties have been reported in Pedring’s wake.

Pedring (international name: Nesat) had intensified further hurtling northwest at 17 kph, or 2 kph slower than its previous speed.

As of 10 p.m., it was spotted170 km east southeast of Casiguran.

The 16th tropical cyclone to enter the Philippine area of responsibility this year is expected to hit northern and Central Luzon before exiting on Wednesday night through La Union province, Servando said.

President Benigno Aquino III, now visiting Japan, was being updated on the situation, Malacañang said.

Storm signals

In its 11p.m. bulletin, Pagasa raised Storm Signal No. 3 over Aurora, Isabela, Cagayan, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.

Signal No. 2 was up over Metro Manila and the provinces of  Ilocos Norte, Ilocas Sur, Abra, Apayao, La Union, Benguet, Pangasinan, Zambales, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, Quezon including Polillo Island, Bataan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes.

Signal No. 1 was hoisted over Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Marinduque, Albay, Sorsogon, Burias and Lubang Islands, Calayan and the Babuyan Group of Islands.

Pagasa said Signal No. 1 was dropped in Northern Samar but urged resident to still be prepared because bad weather was expected to continue throughout the Visayas due to the monsoon.

Science Undersecretary Graciano Yumul Jr. said the typhoon would strengthen as it approached land because of the warm sea surface temperature.

“The sea surface temperature is 28 degrees Centigrade. That is warm (and) conducive to intensification,” he said.

Ondoy’s path

Servando said Pedring could build up its strength but so far there were no indications it would become a supertyphoon.

Pagasa said a high-pressure ridge on the northwest of Luzon had been preventing Pedring from inching north.

“By raising Signal No. 3, we expect heavy damage to agriculture,” Servando said. “Large trees would also fall and houses and electrical posts would be damaged.”

Weather officials said Pedring was following almost the same path as Ondoy, noting that typhoons that form during this month usually move across north and Central Luzon.

Unlike Ondoy, however, Pedring was stronger and faster but had less moisture.

Ondoy, with a strength of 85 kph, directly struck Central Luzon and affected the northern part of Metro Manila.

Ondoy’s recorded rainfall was 56 millimeters per hour compared to Pedring’s, which was 15-25 mm/hr.

Ondoy, which made landfall in Quezon, was one of the most destructive typhoons to hit the Philippines in recent years.

Like Pedring, Ondoy tracked westward, hitting a metropolis that was unprepared for massive rains. It dumped a record rainfall on Metro Manila, flooding almost 80 percent of the city and  displacing nearly half a million Filipinos.

22,500 families

Officials on Monday ordered the evacuation of  22,500 families, representing 111,930 people, in Bicol, which lay close to Pedring’s path and which had been lashed by rains since Sunday.

Six fishermen in Camarines Sur and three others in Masbate who were earlier reported missing at sea were later rescued by the Philippine Coast Guard.

A landslide isolated three towns in Catanduanes and the rains disrupted the power supply in the region, causing blackouts mainly in Albay, including Legazpi City.

As Pedring hovered near Bicol, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) directed its local councils to carry out preemptive  measures.

Work suspended

The Office of Civil Defense regional director, Raffy Alejandro, warned that Pedring would bring heavy rains that could trigger flooding, mudflows and landslides in low-lying and mountainous areas in the region.

In Albay, the disaster council had been supplying food at evacuation camps in the towns of Oas, Polangui and Libon since Sunday.

Governor Joey Salceda suspended work in national and local government offices, except those engaged in emergency work.

DOTC warns

At least 39 domestic flights were canceled, including those of Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines, Zest Air and Philippine Airlines, according to the Manila International Airport Authority.

The Department of Transportation and Communications ordered cargo and passenger ships in several area to stay in port.

Transportation Undersecretary Rafael Santos said shipping companies that would try and push their luck would have their franchises canceled on the spot.

Dangerous billboards

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) sought court permission to roll down billboard tarpaulins across the capital with the approach of Pedring.

In September, the Outdoor Advertisers Association of the Philippines questioned the legality of the MMDA’s drive against billboards and asked a Makati City court to stop the agency from taking down the structures.

“I find it necessary to file the motion to prevent any possible accident or damage that may be brought upon lives and property by falling billboards along the major thoroughfares,”  said MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino.

Magat Dam

Worried about heavy rains, officials running the Magat Dam in Ramon town in Isabela on Monday ordered the release of water through two spillway gates.

Saturnino Tenedor, dam instrumentation chief, said the reservoir’s water level had reached 191.8 meters above sea level (masl) as of Monday morning, 1.2 masl from its spilling level.

The gates were opened at a height of three meters.

Governor Faustino Dy III said provincial officials and disaster response teams had started preparing rubber boats, life jackets, chainsaws, battery-operated lights and ropes, evacuations centers and relief goods.

In the Cordillera, the Department of Public Works and Highways sent out advance teams to monitor landslide-prone roads in Benguet province, where farms supplying Metro Manila with vegetables are located.

In Baguio City, road crews rushed the repavement of national roads, which was delayed by a previous storm. With reports from Matikas Santos of INQUIRER.net; Mar Arguelles, Fernan Gianan, Delfin Mallari Jr., Jonas Cabiles Soltes, Shiena M. Barrameda and Juan Escandor Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon; Villamor Visaya Jr. and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Niña Calleja, Jocelyn R. Uy, TJ Burgonio, Paolo G. Montecillo, Jerry E. Esplanada  and Miko Morelos in Manila

First posted 12:18 am | Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

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TAGS: Disasters, floods, Ondoy Anniversary, Pagasa, Pedring, Typhoon, Weather
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