Thursday, June 23, 2011

‘Falcon’ merges with LPA, gains strength

By Katherine Evangelista
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Thursday, June 23, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Tropical Storm Falcon (international name: Maeri) gained strength on Thursday after it merged with a low pressure area that was earlier spotted off Catanduanes, according to the country’s weather bureau.

Public storm signal No. 1 was raised in Quezon, Aurora, Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Isabela, Batanes Group of Islands and Cagayan, including Calayan and the Babuyan Group of Islands.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said Falcon was expected to enhance the southwest monsoon and would bring rains over Central and Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Pagasa said residents in low-lying and mountainous areas should watch out for flashfloods and landslides. Fisherfolk in western Luzon, Visayas and eastern Mindanao should also refrain from venturing out to sea, it added.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, Falcon was 420 kilometers east of Casiguran, Aurora. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 90 kph.

It was moving northwest at 15 kph.

The low pressure area was spotted 550 km northeast of Virac, Catanduanes earlier Thursday .

Because of its interaction with this low pressure area, Falcon had slowed down.

Forecaster Rene Paciente also said that with the merging of the LPA and Falcon, more rains are expected in the country.

Falcon is expected to be out of the Philippine area of responsibility by Sunday. Its projected rainfall is 15 to 20 millimeters per hour, according to Paciente.

By Friday afternoon, Falcon is expected to be 270 km east northeast of Aparri, Cagayan, and 320 km north northeast of Basco, Batanes, by Saturday afternoon. By Sunday afternoon, it is expected to be 740 km north northeast of Basco, Batanes or 140 km northwest of Okinawa, Japan.

Meanwhile, seven fishermen were confirmed missing in Virac, Catanduanes. In its latest situation report, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that the seven fishermen were from San Vicente village in Virac, Catanduanes. They were reported missing early Thursday afternoon and were reportedly aboard three fishing boats.

The missing fishermen were identified as Antonio Avila Bailon, Nestor Tapit Mandasoc and Vicente Rodriguez Tapit, who were on board a white-green-and-yellow-colored boat; Prosperos Tabios and Paquito Tabuzo who set sail on a yellow-colored boat; and Rolando Sarmiento Tabor and Denver Sta. Ines who were also on another yellow boat.

The Region 5 Office of Civil Defense has requested assistance from the Naval Forces Southern Luzon and Philippine Coast Guard-District Bicol in the search and rescue operations for the missing fishermen. The Philippine Navy will be deploying a PG112 boat and an Islander Aircraft as soon as weather condition improves, the NDRRMC said.

The PCG District Bicol has also issued a no sailing advisory for all motor boats, and passenger and cargo vessels within the region.

As of 6 a.m. Thursday, 210 passengers, 15 trucks, three passenger buses and a private car were reported stranded in the ports of Tabaco, Pio Duran and Rapu-Rapu, all in Albay. Six motor boats and nine other vessels were also confirmed marooned on the ports, the NDRRMC said.

Likewise, the Air Transport Office said it had also cancelled 30 international flights and 26 domestic flights due to the bad weather brought by Falcon.

The provincial disaster council in Albay also issued Advisory No. 2, which suspended classes on all levels in the province; instructed city and municipal mayors to evacuate residents living near flood-prone areas; ordered that no one shall cross flooded roads and bridges and swelling rivers; and warned those living near river banks and mountain slopes to take precautionary measures against possible flashfloods and landslides.

The Department of Public Works and Highways have prepositioned two stake trucks in Albay while the Philippine Army has readied six trucks in Polangui, two in Libon, and two more in Oas, all in the province of Albay, for any possible evacuation.

Ipo dam remained to be nearing critical spill level with 100.3 meters of water level as of 7 a.m. Thursday, the state-run disaster management council said.

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