'Helen' moves closer to land; more areas under signal no. 2-A A +A
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
MANILA (Updated) -- More areas in Northern Luzon have been placed under public storm warning signal number 2 as Tropical Storm Helen (international codename: Kai-Tak) accelerated Tuesday evening, moving closer to Isabela and Cagayan provinces.
In its latest bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the storm was located at 9 p.m. Tuesday at 120 kilometers east southeast of Tuguegarao City.
“It is moving west northwest at 17 kilometers per hour (kph) and is packing maximum winds of 85 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 100 kph,” the bulletin stated.
As a result, public storm warning signal number 2 was hoisted over 16 Northern Luzon areas. These include Cagayan, Calayan and Babuyan Group of Islands, Isabela, Northern Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Benguet, Ifugao, Mt. Province, Ilocos Sur, Apayao, Kalinga, Ilocos Norte, Abra and Batanes Group of Islands.
The weather agency said these areas are expected to experience 61 to 100 kilometers per hour winds within the next 24 hours.
Signal number 1 was raised over the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Tarlac, La Union, and rest of Aurora. These areas will experience 45 to 60 kph winds.
Pagasa said Helen is expected to make landfall in Isabela-Cagayan area on Wednesday morning.
"Ini-expect natin na mag-landfall ito around 8 a.m. Wednesday, but there is another scenario, kung hindi ito mag-landfall, may dadaan na weather system o tinatawag na westerly trough. Once na matapat ito kay bagyong Helen, gagalaw ito ng northward and then balik ito westerly, then palabas ng bansa...We are still monitoring," said senior weather forecaster Robert Sawi.
He said after hitting the Isabela-Cagayan area, the storm will move out of the country by Thursday as it heads toward Taiwan.
Sawi said earlier that Helen has slim chance to turn into a typhoon, but it can gain strength since it is over the sea and become a severe tropical storm.
Residents living in low lying and mountainous areas under public storm warning signals number 2 and 1 are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides. Those living in coastal areas under public storm warning number 2 are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by Helen.
As of Tuesday, Helen already claimed its first fatality identified as Armando Borbon of Basista, Pangasinan. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Borbon died on Monday morning. He suffered from an epileptic seizure and fell into a flooded rice field in Dumpay village.
Pagasa said the tropical storm will also enhance the southwest monsoon that will bring rains over Luzon and Visayas, especially over the Western section.
It added Helen carries about 20 to 35 millimeters of rains per hour (intense-torrential) within its 500-kilometer diameter coverage.
The provinces of Quezon, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Mindoro, Bataan, Zambales, Pangasinan, Tarlac and Metro Manila are expected to experience moderate to heavy rains (7.5-10.0 mm/hr), while intermittent light to moderate rains (2.5-7.5 mm/hr) will be felt over the rest of Central and Southern Luzon.
Pagasa advised fishing boats and other small seacrafts not to venture out into the seaboards of Central and Southern Luzon and Visayas due to Helen and the southwest monsoon.
Helen is forecast to be at 110 kilometers west of Laoag City by Wednesday evening and 470 kilometers west northwest of the city by Thursday evening.
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said it has laid out measures to minimize the impact on the Luzon grid's power transmission operations and facilities, in preparation for the storm’s onslaught.
"Preparations include ensuring the reliability of communications equipment, availability of hardware materials and supplies necessary for the repair of damages to facilities, as well as the positioning of line crews in strategic areas to facilitate restoration work," the NGCP said.
Last week, over 300,000 customers of the Manila Electric Company in Metro Manila and nearby areas suffered power interruptions because of massive flooding caused by the southwest monsoon. Meralco is the country's largest power distributor. (Sunnex)