Bracing for Betty: Rains, ‘slowdown’ seen till midweek
MANILA, Philippines — Supertyphoon Betty (international name: Mawar) will be closest to the country, particularly extreme northern to northeastern Luzon, from Monday to Wednesday, the weather bureau on Saturday.
Betty, which entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) early morning on Saturday, will also enhance the southwest monsoon (“habagat”) during that period, according to Dan Villamil, weather specialist for the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
While the storm had somewhat slowed down as it entered PAR, it managed to keep its strength as a supertyphoon, Villamil said when reached for comment.
Based on Pagasa’s update at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Betty had maximum sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour (kph), with gustiness of up to 230 kph—thus still within Category 5 for supertyphoons.
250 to 300 km away
The weather bureau classifies a tropical cyclone with a maximum wind speed exceeding 185 kph or 100 knots as a supertyphoon. “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan)—which, until Betty, was the last supertyphoon to hit the country in 2013—had a maximum wind speed of 315 kph.
Betty’s latest strength was slightly lower compared with its earlier forecast on Saturday when it had maximum sustained winds of 195 kph and gustiness of 240 kph.
The storm is still not expected to make landfall. But Villamil warned that areas in extreme northern Luzon — particularly Batanes, Babuyan Islands, and Cagayan province in the northeastern tip of Luzon island — should anticipate some severe impacts, such as strong winds and heavy rains.
Pagasa estimates Betty to be 250 to 300 km away from Luzon’s northeastern corridor from Monday to Wednesday.
Villamil, however, noted that this will be a “slowdown period” for the storm, even as it becomes “almost stationary” during those three days.
Work, class suspensions
He said: “This will be the time that Betty may weaken into a typhoon.”
The weather bureau’s latest advisory shows the storm leaving PAR by the early afternoon of Thursday.
Batanes, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan, Kalinga, Isabela, Aurora, Quirino, and the northeastern portions of Abra, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya are currently under tropical cyclone wind signal No. 1.
In the northernmost island town of Itbayat in Batanes, classes and work were suspended since Friday.
Itbayat Mayor Sabas de Sagon also warned residents to brace for Betty’s impact, as the municipality handed out bolt locks and nylon ropes to villagers to help secure their homes.
According to the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) of the Philippine Army, at least 850 boxes of relief goods were airlifted on Thursday to Basco, the provincial capital of Batanes.
De Sagon said: “We have 1,000 food packs on standby after receiving relief goods on Thursday evening.”
In Cagayan, Lt. Senior Grade Miguel Angelo Gangan, Coast Guard Station acting commander in the province, said a “no fish, no sail” rule was observed on Saturday despite the seemingly good weather.
In the island town of Calayan in the Babuyan Islands, villagers carried their boats to higher ground that day, Councilor Robert Joe Arirao of Dadao village said in a text message.
In Ilocos Sur, Gov. Jeremias Singson also suspended classes in private and public schools and work in public offices for Monday.
Work suspension in private offices is upon the discretion of their heads, Singson said.