THE weather bureau announced Monday that 19 storms are forecasted to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility this 2010.

"The intensity of the storms will be more or less the same as in 2009 but we expect less number of landfall this year," Pagasa Director Prisco Nilo told Sun.Star Monday.

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In 2009, three typhoons caused the biggest damage to the Philippines: Ondoy and Pepeng in Luzon, and Frank in Visayas.

Typhoon Ondoy reached strength of up to 175 kilometer per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 210 kph.

Overnight rainfall during the last week of September last year from the typhoon submerged 90 percent of Marikina, according to the police, and other areas around the Metro.

Soon after Ondoy, Typhoon Pepeng, which reached maximum sustained winds of 195 maximum sustained winds and gustiness of up to 230 kph, on the other hand, flooded Northern Luzon.

According to National Disaster and Coordinating Council, Ondoy and Pepeng's combined death tolls reached 648.

The total damage left by Ondoy was pegged at P10.49 billion while that for Pepeng was P7.172 billion.

Typhoon Frank, on the other hand, caused 540 casualties with more than P7 billion in damages.

For this year, Northern Luzon is likely the first area to be hit, according to Nilo.

The annual forecasting is part of Pagasa's commitment for the whole year, based on their observation from satellites and surface data. (Angela Casauay/Sunnex)