Major dams to release water for buffer storage
MANILA - Weather bureau PAGASA on Thursday said typhoon Pepeng (international codename Parma) is forecast to bring more rains and very strong winds in Northern Luzon including Metro Manila once it makes landfall Saturday afternoon.
"There is a big possibility that it will become a supertyphoon. This is a very strong storm, packing winds of 175 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 210 kph. Most likely it will make landfall in the afternoon of Saturday. That is when it is most critical," Nathaniel Cruz, PAGASA director for operations, said in a press briefing.
Cruz said Pepeng is much stronger than last Saturday's tropical storm Ondoy (international codename Ketsana), which brought record amounts of rainfall and triggered the worst flooding in Metro Manila in 40 years.
"In terms of wind intensity, Ondoy was only half of the strength of Pepeng. When it made landfall, Ondoy only had winds of 85 kph while Pepeng is 175 kph. However, we cannot really compare the two because it was the rain that was really destructive about Ondoy," he said.
He added: "Our major concern with Pepeng is the disastrous winds - 175 kph to 210 kph. We expect typhoon Pepeng to intensify further as it moves towards northern Luzon."
He said the weather bureau will give a forecast on the typhoon's estimated rainfall intensity before it makes landfall.
As of 10 a.m., the new typhoon was sighted 520 km east of Borongan, Eastern Samar and is moving 24 kilometers per hour in the general direction of Northern Luzon and the Taiwan area.
Cruz said the typhoon is forecast to make landfall over Aurora-Isabela by Saturday morning. It said the typhoon will bring occasional rains over the eastern section of Luzon and Visayas and more frequent rains in Samar and Bicol Thursday afternoon.
Storm Signal no.1 remains hoisted in Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes, he added.
Similar to 'Reming'
Cruz also likened typhoon Pepeng to super-typhoon Reming (international codename Durian), which killed at least 734 people in the country in 2006.
"This could be like Reming. We are not just talking here about Metro Manila. We are talking of the entire Luzon area where there is probability of devastation in terms of flooding...and wind," he said.
Dr. Susan Espinueva, assistant weather services chief of the Hydro Metrological Division of PAGASA, said major dams in Northern Luzon will be releasing water today until Friday before Pepeng hits.
"All major dams in Northen Luzon wll be releasing water to lower the water level so that when the storm hits, there will be a buffer of storage capacity in our dams and the spillover will not be as severe,' she said.
The government has started preparing more evacuation centers as it anticipates more people to be displaced by the new storm.
Disaster officials fear more rains spawned by the typhoon could trigger another massive flood as streets and drainage systems remain clogged from the tons of debris left by the previous deluge caused by tropical storm Ondoy (international codename Ketsana).
As of 6 a.m., the National Disaster Coordinating Council said more than half a million families of 2.50 million individuals have been affected by Ondoy in 11 regions, including Metro Manila and the Calabarzon area in southern Luzon.
It said that a total of 686,699 people are now staying in 726 evacuation centers. It said Ondoy’s death toll has reached 277 and 42 were still missing.
The storm, which also devastated Vietnam and Cambodia, damaged crops and infrastructure worth at least P4.80 billion.