A stormy Christmas, thanks to ‘Nina’
A severe tropical storm that may intensify into a typhoon will bring moderate to heavy rains and blustery weather to the Philippines on Christmas Day, weather forecasters said on Friday.
Tropical Storm “Nina” (international name: Nock-ten) was about 700 kilometers east of Borongan, Eastern Samar, and was packing winds of up to 105 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 130 kph by late Friday afternoon.
Landrico Dalida Jr., a deputy administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), said Nina may intensify into a typhoon, with winds of at least 120 kph before it makes landfall in Catanduanes province on Sunday afternoon or evening.
“Our Christmas is going to be rainy and windy so while we celebrate, we should also be ready for this coming storm,” Dalida said.
Forecaster Christopher Perez said Nina was likely to affect central and southern Luzon and parts of the Visayas within the next three to five days.
He said a larger area could be affected “because we anticipate the coverage of the typhoon to widen in the next few days.”
Potential risk areas
The Department of the Interior and Local Government said Metro Manila and more than two dozen provinces are “potential risk areas.”
The provinces are Albay, Aurora, Bataan, Batangas, Benguet, Bulacan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Cavite, Samar, La Union, Laguna, Marinduque, Masbate, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, Quirino, Rizal, Romblon, Tarlac and Zambales.
Renito Paciente, Pagasa assistant weather service chief, said Nina was expected to hit Metro Manila on Monday and Signal No. 2 or 3 may be raised over the metropolis. He said, however, that Nina could weaken into a storm after it hits land.
The people are being informed “that we could get hit on Christmas Day,” Romina Marasigan, spokesperson for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“The highest levels of preparedness are being undertaken,” including stocking up designated evacuation centers with food and other provisions, she said.
Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, chair of the Bicol Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), said he had earlier advised all provincial disaster offices to be on high alert as the storm approaches the region.
In Legazpi City, capital of Albay, Vice Gov. Harold Imperial said the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on Friday passed a resolution declaring the entire province under “immiment disaster” due to Nina.
Imperial said the declaration would allow all local government units to use their calamity funds for evacuation, preparation, stockpiling of relief goods and other preemptive actions.
State of imminent danger
Mayor Sammy Laynes of Virac, capital of Catanduanes province, has also declared a state of “imminent danger,” authorizing municipal officials to make cash advances to purchase supplies to beef up their emergency food stockpile.
Barangay captains in Virac were ordered to warn residents not to venture out of homes on Sunday, Christmas Day, when Nina was expected to make landfall.
In Oriental Mindoro, provincial disaster officer Vincent Gahol, said operation centers had been opened with personnel and resources ready for deployment. “We continue to monitor the track of the typhoon for preemptive evacuation,” Gahol said.
Millions of Filipinos are traveling by land, sea or air to their hometowns for Christmas reunions with family and friends.
Possible landslides, flooding
Officials warned of possible landslides and flooding along the typhoon’s path.
Forecasters said sea travel was risky because of the northeast monsoon, or amihan. They said winds strong enough to topple trees and other structures could be expected before the storm hits land.
Nina also is expected to create storm surges 1 meter to 2 meters high in Quezon, the Bicol region, the Samar provinces and other coastal areas, they said.
“We want to advise those with travel plans (that) if they plan to go to Bicol, they should go now. There’s a big chance they might get stranded if they will leave on Dec. 24,” Pagasa senior meteorologist Jun Galang said.
Nina is forecast to move northwest over northern provinces and expected to exit the Philippines by Wednesday. —WITH REPORTS FROM JEROME ANING, DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN, FERNAN GIANAN, MA. APRIL MIER, AP AND AFP