Manila, Philippines (Aug 14 2012) - Several areas in Northern Luzon were placed under public storm warning signal number 1 as tropical depression “Helen” International Name: KAI-TAK becomes a Tropical Storm as it continues to move closer to extreme Northern Luzon.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) raised storm warning signal no. 1 over Quirino, Aurora, Isabela, Kalinga, Apayao, Cagayan, Babuyan, Calayan group of islands and Batanes group of islands.
PAGASA weather forecaster Chris Perez said Helen is unlikely to directly hit any part of the country within the next 24 hours. However, it will enhance the southwest monsoon, which will bring rains over Luzon and the Visayas, particularly the western section.
Helen is expected to dump 15 to 35 millimeters per hour of rain (heavy-torrential) within its 400-kilometer radius.
The enhanced southwest monsoon is expected to bring intermittent light to moderate rains (2.5-7.5 mm/hr) in Central and Southern Luzon, becoming more frequent moderate to heavy rains (7.5-10.0 mm/hr) over Camarines provinces, Quezon province, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Mindoro, Bataan, Zambales and Metro Manila.
As of 4 p.m. yesterday, the center of Helen was spotted at 430 km east of Casiguran, Aurora, packing winds of 65 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph. It was forecast to move west northwest at 13 kph.
Perez said Helen was forecast to cross Balintang Channel in the next 48 hours and exit the Philippine area of responsibility in the next 72 hours.
Helen is predicted to be 210 km east of Tuguegarao, Cagayan this afternoon; 80 km south southwest of Basco, Batanes tomorrow afternoon and 310 km northwest of Basco, Batanes by Thursday afternoon.
“By Wednesday night Helen will bring significant amount of rains over most parts of Luzon. By Thursday it will move toward southern Taiwan but there will still be rains due to the enhanced monsoon,” Perez said.
Perez warned fishermen in Northern, Central and Southern Luzon and Visayas not to venture out to sea due to big waves generated by the storm.
He also warned the public, particularly those in low-lying and mountainous areas, against possible flashfloods and landslides.
Six major dams in Luzon released water yesterday in anticipation of rains to be dumped by tropical storm Helen.
PAGASA said Angat and Ipo dams in Bulacan opened three and four gates, respectively, as of 4 p.m. yesterday.
PAGASA hydrologist Gine Nievares said the current water discharge at Angat dam has raised the water level at Angat river by only 0.1 meter since Sunday. Angat’s water level was at 215.02 as of 4 p.m. Monday.
“Our target water level at Angat is 212 to accommodate the rains in the coming days,” Nievares said.
The dams in Ambuklao and Binga in Benguet and San Roque in Pangasinan continued to release water yesterday, PAGASA said. Three gates were opened in Binga; two in Ambuklao and one in San Roque.
Magat dam in Isabela is less than two meters to spilling level as of 6 p.m yesterday. Alex Lucas of Magat Dam forecasting division disclosed that the dam’s reservoir elevation is 191.10 meters while the critical level is 193 meters. One gate was opened as of 4 p.m.
Isabela was one of the areas placed under storm warning signal number 1.
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) placed the dam’s water level at 191.25 meters, still above the critical level of 190 meters and nearly two meters below the dam’s spilling level of 193 meters.
The dam’s water level has been hovering at the 190 to 192 level for the past two weeks amid intermittent rains over the dam area and its watersheds.
According to NIA engineer Saturnino Tenedor, chief of the dam’s flood forecasting and instrumentation detection section, one of the dam’s floodgates was open 2 meters as of yesterday for the release of water.
Tenedor said the excess water is being utilized to generate power. Besides contributing 360 megawatts of power to the Luzon grid, the dam has also been the source of irrigation for more than 80,000 hectares of farmlands in Isabela.
The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), on the other hand, has restored power supply in Bataan before the arrival of Helen.
In a statement, the transmission service provider said it restored early yesterday a 69-kiloVolt (kV) line in Morong, Bataan that was affected by widespread flooding and landslides.
The NGCP said major power transmission lines or grid backbone facilities rated at least 230 kV were unaffected and remained intact after the heavy monsoon rains and flooding.
“NGCP assures the public that it is ready to implement similar preparations and precautions to minimize the impact of succeeding weather disturbances and calamities on NGCP operation and facilities,” the company said.
The NGCP operates, maintains and develops the country’s power grid owned by National Transmission Corp.
It transmits high-voltage electricity through power superhighways that include transmission lines, towers and substations.
PCG on alert
Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has placed on alert all the search and rescue teams in their two districts in Northern Luzon.
PCG spokesman Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo said their Northeastern Luzon District and Northwestern Luzon District have began preparing accordingly, specifically their search and rescue teams.
They have also alerted fishermen in the Northern Luzon area, particularly those from Aparri, Cagayan and Batanes provinces, not to venture out to sea until such time that the storm signals have been lifted and weather has improved.
In the National Capital Region (NCR), the PCG has placed its 22 teams made up of their Special Operation Group divers, Water Search and Rescue personnel and representatives from the PCG Auxiliary on standby.
“They have also started re-provisioning on food and fuel,” he added.
Balilo said PCG commandant Vice Admiral Edmund Tan is also reportedly contemplating on initiating a memorandum of agreement with shipping lines to get a real time situation reports from ships in areas during bad weather.
“Vice Admiral Tan is thinking of using the ships for better verification of the weather. The ships that are sailing would be able to help give an actual weather report in the areas as they are passing through,” Balilo said.
The vessels could give an assessment of the intensity of the wind and the height of waves.
“They have a barometer on board so the ships are capable of providing these information to their shipping line and to the PCG. Now, we would use this information to alert the fishermen so they would be aware of the situation of the sea in real time,” he added. (From Philstar.com)