‘Santi’ roars toward Luzon
A tropical storm barreling toward Luzon intensified into a typhoon on Friday with powerful winds and torrential rains, threatening farmlands and populated areas on the island, including Metro Manila.
Typhoon “Santi” made its landfall on Dingalan, Aurora province at 11 p.m. Friday, with winds up to 150 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 185 kph, radio reports said midnight.
Santi was moving westward at 15 kph, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
Another tropical depression east of the Philippines is trailing Santi and is expected to enter the country’s area of responsibility on Sunday or Monday.
The tropical depression will be named “Tino” once it arrives.
Pagasa said, however, that Tino would likely only graze the country’s northern parts.
With Santi bearing down on Luzon on Friday, authorities placed the provinces on the island and Metro Manila under storm alert, closed schools and put emergency services on notice.
The center of the typhoon was forecast to pass just north of Manila, dumping more rain in the capital that quickly gets flooded because of poor infrastructure and clogged drainage and water canals.
Placed under typhoon Signal No. 3, indicating winds of 100 to 185 kph, were the provinces of Aurora, Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, Benguet, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Mountain Province, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, northern Quezon, including Polillo Island, and northern Zambales.
Signal No. 2, indicating winds of 61 to 100 kph, was raised over Metro Manila, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan, Apayao, Kalinga, Abra, the rest of Zambales, Pampanga, Bataan, Bulacan and Rizal provinces and the rest of Quezon.
Placed under Signal No. 1, indicating winds of 30 to 60 kph, were Calayan and the Babuyan group of islands, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, the Lubang islands, Marinduque, the Camarines provinces, northern Mindoro and Catanduanes.
After slamming into the Aurora-Isabela region, Santi is expected to pound the mountains and rice-growing plains of Central Luzon and exit into the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), heading into Vietnam on Monday afternoon.
Pagasa said it expected Santi to bring heavy to intense rainfall (7.5 to 30 millimeters per hour) in areas within its 500-km diameter.
The weather bureau alerted residents of areas under signals 3, 2, and 1 to possible flash floods and landslides.
Pagasa advised residents of coastal areas under signals 3 and 2 to watch out for storm surges.
Authorities suspended ferry services on Friday, stranding more than 1,500 travelers in piers in Manila and Batangas, Calapan, Puerto Real, Mamburao, Lucena, Catanduanes, Albay and Camarines Sur provinces.
The Philippine Coast Guard also advised operators of small vessels and fishing boats not to go out to the southwestern and western seas where the waters would be rough.
Three fishermen from Viga town in Catanduanes province were reported missing since Thursday, according to Bicol civil defense official Rafael Rernardo Alejandro.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda suspended classes in the province.
The Department of Public Works and Highways in Albay reported that a portion of a road linking Libon town to Ligao City was rendered impassable when the roadway pavement collapsed after a downpour Friday.
Commercial flights to Naga airport in Pili, Camarines Sur, were canceled Friday due to stormy weather, but air services to Legazpi City remained normal.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said it was ready to evacuate thousands of residents from coastal towns threatened by the typhoon.
The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said it was ready to respond quickly to power disruptions that Santi might cause.
Preparing for Santi
Aurora province braced itself for Santi’s impact as the typhoon headed inland on Friday.
The provincial government sent two trucks and food supplies to the northern towns of Dinalungan, Casiguran and Dilasag to prepare for evacuation and relief operations.
Simeon de Castro, provincial administrator, said the trucks would be used for evacuation.
The initial food supplies consisted of rice and groceries, he said.
De Castro said local officials in Dinalungan, Casiguran and Dilasag met on Thursday and activated their municipal disaster councils.
The three towns bore the brunt of Typhoon “Labuyo” in the second week of August.
Classes were suspended in Aurora on Friday.
Classes in other provinces in northern and Central Luzon were also called off Friday.
De Castro said local officials had begun preemptive evacuation.
Mayor Reynante Tolentino of Dipaculao town said two families were evacuated from the coastal village of Lubut Friday morning.
Antonio Molano, director of the DPWH in Central Luzon, said he had positioned equipment in landslide-prone highways in Aurora and Nueva Ecija for immediate response should the roads be blocked by landslides.
In Olongapo City, residents braced themselves for Santi’s arrival as they battled an outbreak of the water-borne disease leptospirosis, which had claimed 10 lives and infected about 400 people as of Friday.
But learning from the unprecedented floods that struck Olongapo last month, Mayor Rolen Paulino said the city health department was instructed to store and distribute medicines should Santi cause new flooding.
Nueva Ecija did not experience heavy rain and strong winds Friday despite coming under typhoon Signal No. 3.
Officials ordered the gates of Pantabangan Dam closed to avoid aggravating the expected swelling of rivers as Santi crossed the province.
The dam’s water level yesterday was 204.18 meters above sea level (masl), 17 meters below spilling level.
Abraham Pascua, cochair of the provincial disaster council, said the command posts in Carranglan and Licab towns, composed of Army soldiers, policemen and medical and social welfare personnel, were activated on Friday.
In Pangasinan, the provincial disaster council prepared to respond to emergency as Santi approached.
Fernando de Guzman, executive officer of the council, said he had positioned disaster response teams in high-risk areas in the province in preparation for the typhoon.
“This is the first time this year that a typhoon will hit the province directly. That’s why we have to be ready,” De Guzman said.
Pagasa said the typhoon was expected to be in the vicinity of Benguet by this morning and would be at 300 km northwest of Dagupan City by Sunday morning.
As of Friday morning, the water level at San Roque Dam in San Manuel town was 274.12 masl, below the spilling level of 280 masl.
In the Ilocos region, the disaster councils in Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte alerted residents to possible storm surges, flooding, landslides and dam spills.
In La Union, the regional Department of Social Welfare and Development started preparing relief goods.
Dams remain fine
In Bulacan, water in the province’s dams remained below critical levels.
Water level at the Bustos Dam was 16.98 masl, below the critical level of 17.70 masl.
In Angat Dam in Norzagaray town, the water level was 202.96 masl, below the 212 masl spilling level.
Rodolfo German, general manager of Angat hydroelectric power plant, said the dam had not released water since January, as rain dumped by typhoons was not enough to push the water level to critical levels.
In the Cordilleras, local officials placed rescue workers on alert as Santi moved toward the region. With reports from Tina G. Santos and Riza T. Olchondra in Manila; Tonette Orejas, Robert Gonzaga, Anselmo Roque, Armand Galang and Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon, and Gabriel Cardinoza, Cristina Arzadon and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; Mar S. Arguelles and Maricar Cinco, Inquirer Southern Luzon; AFP and AP, Frances Mangosing, INQUIRER.net
First posted 12:53 am | Saturday, October 12th, 2013
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