Goni intensifies into severe tropical storm while moving westward

Maris Federez   •   October 29, 2020   •   287

MANILA, Philippines — Tropical Storm Goni has rapidly intensified into a severe tropical storm (STS) while moving westward at 10 km/h, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Thursday.

The center of STS Goni was estimated at 1,545 kilometers East of Central Luzon outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) 16.6°North ,136.6°East, based on all available data.

The state weather bureau said STS Goni packed a maximum sustained winds of 95 km/h near the center and gustiness of up to 115 km/h.

Once it enters the PAR, Goni will be renamed Rolly, PAGASA said.

It added that STS Goni was forecast to intensify into a typhoon within 24 hours and will continue to intensify while moving over the Philippine Sea.

State meteorologists said Goni may bring heavy rains over the eastern sections of Central and Southern Luzon either by Friday or the weekend as it moves closer.

Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal (TCWS) No. 1 may be raised over some provinces in the Bicol Region and in Northern Samar by Friday evening. —/mbmf

Probe starts on possible cause of Cagayan-Isabela flood

Marje Pelayo   •   November 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) maintained that prior to the entry of Typhoon Ulysses in the country on November 8, they were constantly reminding the public of its possible impact and the volume of rains that it might bring, similar to the previous weather disturbances that entered the country.

According to PAGASA Administrator Vicente Malano, they also forewarned the public that since the previous typhoons had already saturated the ground, expect the possibility of massive flash floods on the onset of Typhoon Ulysses.

“Ang sabi ko during the press conference, mag-ingat tayo dito dahil saturated na ang kalupaan at pagdating ni Ulysses…si Ulysses ay nasa 400 ang radius ng kanyang influence so kaya widespread talaga ang ulan na dinala niya [What I said during the press conference was to be vigilant and prepare because the ground was already saturated even before Ulysses. Ulysses’ influence was 400-kilometer radius so rainfall was really widespread],” Malano explained during the joint committee hearing on Tuesday (November 24) led by the House Committee on Agriculture and Food and Special Committee on North Luzon Growth Quadrangle.

The probe aims to determine the real cause of the worst flood in 40 years that submerged almost the entire Cagayan and Isabela provinces on November 11 in the aftermath of Typhoon Ulysses.

Many blamed the flood on water released from Magat Dam but according to the dam’s operator the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), all protocols regarding the release of water had been followed though the agency did not deny that it could have contributed to the deluge.

“Talagang matagal na iyong protocol. Ngayon lang natin nakita na it could have contributed to the flooding. Hindi naman namin na dinedeny dahil may tubig naman talagang lumabas [The protocol has been there a long time ago. It is only now that we realized it could have contributed to the flooding. We don’t deny that we released water (from the dam)],” said Ret/Gen. Ricardo Visaya, NIA Administrator.

“But hindi iyon talaga ang major reason or major caused ng flooding [But it was not the major reason or cause of the flooding],” he insisted saying they advised the communities six hours prior to the scheduled release of water on November 9 to give them time to prepare and, if possible, evacuate the area also in anticipation of the strong typhoon based on the information provided by PAGASA.

NIA explained that it is not only Magat River (where Magat Dam is located) but there are 20 other tributaries or rivers that bring water to the catch basin which is Cagayan River. 

In fact, Magat River brings only about 15% of water to Cagayan River.

Given this information, Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy asked the officials which among the government agencies are responsible now for projecting the potential impact or extent of hazards like the flash flood that happened in Cagayan and Isabela.

“Who analyzes the effect in the provinces where the dam is located or where flooding has occurred?” asked the lawmaker.

Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad of the Office of the Civil Defense said all member agencies of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) are well-represented every time they have meetings and that includes the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the one responsible for flood control in the country.

For its part, the DPWH said there was actually an existing masterplan for the Cagayan River flood control project that was established way back 2002 though it was not pushed through due to problems in funding.

“In this Cagayan, we have the master plan in 2002 and feasibility study however because of the magnitude cost during that time it was not pushed through for financing,” explained DPWH’s Project Director for Flood Control Management Cluster Ramon Ariola.

The DPWH is now planning to conduct dredging efforts in the Cagayan River as well as constructing six more dams on the upper area of the waterway.

The NDRRMC, meanwhile, is now in discussion over the creation of a committee that will focus on the management and safety of dams in the country.

In the next hearing, the joint committee seeks to hear from the River Basin Control Office, a sub-agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to speak its side on the issue. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)


Heavy rainfall, siltation, high tide among possible causes of Marikina River overflow — USec. Solidum

Marje Pelayo   •   November 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Residents of Marikina City and the city government did not expect the sudden increase in Marikina River’s water level in the course of Typhoon Ulysses.

The river burst its banks reaching 22 meters high around 11:00 AM on Thursday (November 12).

Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said that yesterday’s water level surpassed that of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 which was at 21.5 meters.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) explained that the volume of rain brought by typhoon Ulysses was higher as compared to Typhoon Rolly but still, Typhoon Ondoy had the highest level of rains.

“Iyong kay Bagyong Ondoy, siya ay tropical storm noong dumaan  pero napakarami niyang dalang ulan. At noong panahong dumaan si Ondoy, mabagal ang pagkilos noong tumawid ito doon sa Central Luzon at panahon din noon ng habagat,” noted PAGASA weather specialist Arial Rojas.

(‘Ondoy’ was a tropical storm that carried immense amount of rain. Aside from moving very slowly over Central Luzon, it was also during the southwest monsoon season.)

Meanwhile, DOST Undersecretary Renato Solidum of the agency’s Disaster Risk Reduction And Climate Change Adaptation Division said that what happened in Marikina City was a flash flood coming from the nearby mountain.

He said that perhaps the soil had been saturated from the previous typhoons prior to Typhoon Ulysses.

The soil could no longer hold the amount of water with the addition of heavy rains from Typhoon Ulysses hence the flash flood.

“Maliwanag naman na 250 to 300 mm of rain, so malaking baha na iyon kaya nga nagbigay ang PAGASA ng flash flood warning (Rains of about 250 to 350 mm could cause massive flooding that’s the reason why PAGASA issued flash flood warnings),” Solidum explained.

Also, the official believes that the physical structure of the river has changed in the past 11 years particularly its depth which could be due to siltation.

Magmula noong Ondoy hanggang ngayon palaging may pag-ulan na nangyayari sa Sierra Madre at ang nangyayari dito, iyong ilog ay bababaw nang bababaw dahil sa mga dinadalang sediments, mga putik o kaya silt o buhangin magmula sa kabundukan at paminsan may mga malalaki pang piraso kaya bababaw talaga yung ilog,” he noted.

(Since Ondoy and up to now, there has been regular occurrence of rainfall in the Sierra Madre [mountain ranges]. The sediments, mud and silt — even boulders at times — that stream down the mountain and into river have caused the riverbed to become shallow.)

Another factor, Solidum explained, was the construction of houses near the river banks which could have affected the waterway. The construction of concrete floorings may have limited the ability of the soil to absorb water.

The dwindling forest cover of nearby mountains is another issue that Solidum said needs to be checked based on the high turbidity level in Marikina River.

The high tide in Manila Bay could have also contributed to the rise in flood water, Soludim said.

Given these factors, Usec. Solidum advises the local government units and the public to always heed warnings and advisories of concerned agencies like PAGASA to be able to prepare appropriate measures prior to the onset of a calamity.

Pwedeng mag pre-emptive evacuation na kaagad para sa priority areas na babahain at yung mga delikado tulad ng mga matatanda, maysakit, bata, pregnant (They may conduct preemptive evacuation in priority areas that are flood-prone. They may evacuate first those who are vulnerable like the elderly, the sick, the children and pregnant women),” he said.

“Kung may maiiwan man sa mga bahay, sila na yung kailangang mag evacuate pag naabot na yung critical level (If they decide that somebody should stay, that person must have the capacity to evacuate once flood water reaches critical level),” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Angat Dam water level increases by 9 meters throughout the onslaught of TY Ulysses

Marje Pelayo   •   November 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Water level in Angat Dam increased significantly throughout the traverse of Typhoon Ulysses in Luzon and Bulacan where the facility is located.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Typhoon Ulysses added around 9 meters of water to Angat’s reserve. From 205.50 meters on November 11 to it rose to 214.15 meters on November 13, at 6:00 AM — only about three meters short of reaching its maximum capacity of 217 meters.

The highest volume added was from Wednesday to Thursday which reached 5.8 meters.

Meanwhile, National Water Resources Board (NWRB) Executive Director Sevillo David said that currently the spillage is being done gradually in consideration of the communities that may be affected and to avoid aggravating the situation downstream.

“May spilling na ginagawa ang NPC but mina-manage ang releases considering safety of the dam and likewise the situation of the downstream communities in Bulacan which are already flooded to minimize its effect,” he explained.

Angat Dam is the main source of domestic water supply in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. MNP (with inputs from Rey Pelayo)

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