Probe starts on possible cause of Cagayan-Isabela flood

Marje Pelayo   •   November 24, 2020   •   214

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)


LPA south of Zamboanga del Sur less likely to develop into tropical depression — PAGASA

Marje Pelayo   •   January 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A low pressure area (LPA) located South of Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur is less likely to develop into a tropical depression, according to PAGASA.

In its latest advisory, the state weather bureau said the effects of the tail-end of frontal system (shear line) will be affecting the Visayas region, Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, Bangsamoro, Sorsogon, and Masbate.

Residents in the said areas will experience cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms that may trigger flash floods due to moderate to heavy rains.

Meanwhile, the northeast monsoon is currently prevailing in most parts of Luzon including Cagayan Valley, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Aurora, Quezon, and rest of Bicol Region. 

Cloudy skies with light rains will prevail in these areas.

Similar weather system prevails in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon which may bring partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated light rains throughout the day.

Meanwhile, the Davao Region and SOCCSKSARGEN will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers due to the effects of localized thunderstorms.

Residents are advised to brace for potential flash floods or landslides during severe thunderstorms.

2 LPAs to bring moderate to heavy rains, floods over some parts of Luzon

Marje Pelayo   •   December 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Two low pressure areas (LPA) are expected to bring rains and potential floods over several areas in the country, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

As of 4:00 AM Monday (December 28), the first LPA was located 90 km East of Baler, Aurora while the other LPA was estimated based on all available data at 235 km Northwest of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Likewise, the tail – end of a frontal system is now affecting extreme Northern Luzon.

The combined effects of the LPA and the frontal system will bring cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms over Cagayan Valley and Aurora provinces.

Meanwhile, the trough of LPA is expected to bring scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms over the areas of Quezon and the rest of Northern Luzon.

Over Bicol Region, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Caraga and Davao Region, the easterlies will bring cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms. 

Meanwhile, Metro Manila and the rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers due to localized thunderstorms.

The state weather agency and disaster management authorities warn residents in the areas mentioned of possible flash floods or landslides due to light to moderate with at times heavy rains.

PAGASA advised to monitor further updates through their website for developments of the weather systems.

Rare ‘great’ conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn visible from December 21 to 25 — PAGASA

Marje Pelayo   •   December 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines —The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) announced on Monday (December 21) that the ‘great’ conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn has begun and will be visible from December 21 to 25, 2020.

According to the agency, a conjunction occurs when planets appear close to one another in the sky because they line up with Earth in their respective orbits. 

‘Great’ conjunctions are the rarest and one of the brightest and closest on the average of conjunction between naked eye planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.

This year’s conjunction will be historic since it will be the closest since 1623, the closest observable since 1226, and will not happen again until March 15, 2080.

DOST-PAGASA Astronomical Observation and Time Service Unit Chief Mario Raymundo, said in a statement that the conjunction can be seen on the Western horizon and will be visible to the naked eye.

Raymundo assured the public that the astronomical event has no adverse effect because the two planets are extremely distant from Earth. MNP / Raymund David

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