‘Ramil’ will veer toward Taiwan or ravage N. Luzon

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This is the weather update that is going on in some parts of the Philippines.  Thanks to Alcuin Papa, Inquirer Northern Luzon, Inquirer Central Luzon for this article, it was written Oct 18th.

MANILA, Philippines–The next 48 hours are crucial for northern Luzon, the Pagasa weather bureau said on Saturday.

Within that period, it will be determined whether Typhoon “Ramil” (international name: Lupit) will veer north toward Taiwan or move northwest to ravage the region, which is still picking up the pieces after “Pepeng” cut a trail of destruction there early this month.

Weather forecaster Robert Sawi said a high-pressure area near Taiwan would spell the difference.

If the high-pressure area stays in its current position, it might allow Ramil to move north and spare northern Luzon. But if it moves west, it may pull Ramil over the region.

“We will see in the next 48 hours what will happen,” Sawi told the Inquirer.

He said Ramil was moving slowly and was almost stationary, as if deciding where to go. “In my experience, once a system slows down, there is a chance it would change direction and we would be spared,” he added.

But Sawi’s boss, Pagasa Director Prisco Nilo, was less optimistic. In a briefing late Saturday afternoon at the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) in Camp Aguinaldo, Nilo said the “unanimous forecast” was that Ramil would head to northern Luzon.

He said the chance of it doing so was 80 percent.

Nilo said Pagasa expected Ramil to stick close to northern Luzon on Monday. By Tuesday, Luzon will feel the effects of the typhoon, which is expected to make landfall in Cagayan on Wednesday afternoon .

At 4 p.m. Saturday, Ramil was located 750 kilometers east southeast of Casiguran, Aurora, with maximum winds and gustiness of 140 and 170 km per hour, respectively.

It is moving west northwest at 13 kph.

Nilo said scattered rain showers and thunderstorms were expected over southern Luzon and the Visayas for the next three days due to an intertropical convergence zone.

Sawi said it was possible that Ramil could develop into a supertyphoon with maximum winds reaching 215 kph or more because it was still out at sea.

At noon Saturday, National Power Corp. (Napocor) increased the opening of two spillway gates of the San Roque Dam in San Manuel, Pangasinan, from 2 meters to 3 meter.

In a general notice for water releases it issued on Friday, Napocor said San Roque’s reservoir elevation was expected to rise due to rains brought by Ramil.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, the water elevation was 283.35 meters above sea level. It was releasing water at 772 cubic meters per second (cms).

“Due to additional release of water, the water level and flow in the Agno River are expected to rise. Please be on the alert and take necessary precautions,” Napocor said.

In Isabela, operators of Magat Dam continued releasing water at a rate of 833 cms in anticipation of Ramil.


Defense Secretary and NDCC Chair Gilbert Teodoro said authorities were now “prepositioning” relief goods to areas likely to be hit by Ramil, such as Pangasinan, La Union, the Ilocos provinces, Batanes, Cagayan and Baguio City.

Teodoro said “air assets” were being concentrated in the Cordilleras, specifically nine isolated areas in Mountain Province and Benguet.

He said the NDCC’s regional offices had been ordered to consolidate assets like rubber boats and to prepare for preemptive evacuations: “Better to have preemptive evacuations than to have to rescue people.”

He added: “We have to plan for the worst-case scenario.”

Teodoro also said the NDCC would instruct operators of dams in northern Luzon to “release more water right now, but in close verbal consultation with local government officials.”

He said he would not accept communication through text messages.

Find evacuation areas

Under threat of Ramil, residents and local governments still reeling from Pepeng’s onslaught prepared to lessen the new typhoon’s impact.

Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan said he had ordered the province’s 13 mayors to move people away from danger zones.

Fongwan reminded people to take extra care and ordered all disaster coordinating councils in Benguet to be on the alert.

He said local officials had been tasked to find safe areas to serve as evacuation centers and temporary relocation centers, and were under strict orders to ensure that families displaced by landslides would not go back to their communities.

“We will not allow the families to return to their homes if their areas are considered geohazard [zones],” Fongwan said.

“We do not want to hear reports of new casualties because we failed to give the proper warning,” he said.

Massive landslides triggered by Pepeng killed more than 300 people in the Cordillera.

Benguet officials are worried that should Ramil hit the region, relocation and relief efforts would be delayed.

Since Monday, two Air Force helicopters had been transporting rice and other staples to areas that had run out of food, like the towns of Buguias, Atok, Kibungan, Sablan and Bokod.

The same choppers also delivered relief goods to Mountain Province.

In Baguio, which was isolated for about two days last week due to landslides triggered by heavy rains, Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. called on the people not to panic.

Bautista said Ramil was still far and people have time to prepare, he said.

Focus on critical areas

In Pangasinan, where floods spawned by Pepeng’s continuous rains submerged farms, communities and business centers in 38 towns and cities, officials and residents in riverside communities have begun to move.

“We have started to evacuate our people to a vacant space away from the dike,” said Jasmin Gamboa, barangay chief of Carmen East, a community along the Agno River in Rosales town.

Carmen East was one of the most devastated areas in Pangasinan when the San Roque Dam released excess water to the Agno River, causing it to swell, erode the earth dikes and inundate the barangay.

At least 800 families left homeless have settled in makeshift structures on vacant lots.

“We are scared by Ramil’s coming,” Gamboa said. “Our people have suffered so much and I’m worried for them.”

Rosales Mayor Ricardo Revita said he had no choice but to “face the problem and prepare for it.”

“We will have to focus on critical areas. We will have to constantly monitor the river’s water level,” he said.

Revita said the San Roque Dam should release as much excess water that the Agno River could absorb.

“With no rainfall, I think the river can absorb as much as 2,500 cms,” he said.

Carmen West resident Leny Flores, 58, said she was ready to open her house again to flood victims.

Flores’ house was turned into an evacuation center for at least 30 families when Pepeng struck.

“We were like sardines. Nobody could lie down; we just stood there until the water receded,” she said.

Preemptive evacuation

In Guagua, Pampanga, bakery owners Jesus and Lucy Tingin moved their baking equipment to the second floor of their house.

“If it gets flooded again, we will lose our source of livelihood,” Lucy Tingin said.

Added her husband: “There’s always a flood in our area because of the high tide. Heavy rains raise the flood level. We have lost customers due to the floods.”

Another resident, Natividad Verzano, said she had placed important documents in a vault in her house’s second floor, also as a safeguard against floods.

Guagua Mayor Ricardo Rivera said evacuation centers had been identified and relief goods prepared.

Melchito Castro, director of the Office of Civil Defense in Cagayan Valley, said his office had alerted all local governments in the region to prepare for the typhoon and evacuate residents in areas expected to be hit.

“Preemptive evacuation has been our priority in flood-prone areas. Even if they resist, if it is for their safety, we will resort to carrying them from their houses to evacuation sites,” said Antonio Montereal Jr., information officer of the Ilagan government. With reports from Delmar Cariño, Gabriel Cardinoza, Yolanda Sotelo, Vincent Cabreza and Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Charlene Cayabyab and Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon

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