By Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned of possible landslides and flash floods, as typhoon “Rosita” (international name “Yutu”) intensified and continues to threaten Northern and Central Luzon.
PAGASA weather specialist Meno Mendoza said Rosita has entered the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) was about 875 kilometers east of Aparri, Cagayan, as of noon yesterday.
Mendoza said it remains to be a strong cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 200 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 240 kph.
Rosita packs about the same strength as typhoon “Ompong” (Mangkhut), which reached 205 kph and gustiness of 255 kph when it hit Cagayan province last month.
It also moves continues to move west at 20 kph, threatening the same areas slammed by Ompong, leaving dozens dead, particularly in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) which was hit by landslides.
Mendoza advised the public, particularly those in Northern and Central Luzon, to be alert against possible landslides or flash floods triggered by typhoon Rosita.
It is still seen to make landfall over Cagayan or Isabela by tomorrow morning.
The massive typhoon with 800-kilometer diameter could affect most of Northern and Central Luzon, including Metro Manila beginning Monday evening, Mendoza said.
“Flooding and landslides are possible, while travel by land and sea is risky,” PAGASA said.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Operations Center was already on Blue Alert status since the entry of Rosita at 6:30 a.m. Sunday in order to closely monitor the possible effects of the typhoon that left a trail of destruction in the Northern Marianas Islands.
In a statement, the NDRRMC said the raising of its alert status is also meant to ensure efficient coordination with member agencies. Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad, NDRRMC Executive Director and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Administrator, said the public is advised to monitor weather updates and bulletins provided by PAGASA.
As early as last Friday, Jalad presided a Pre-Disaster Risk Assessment meeting attended by representatives from NDRRMC member agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Science and Technology, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Department of Education (DepEd), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), etc.
Cagayan gets ready
In Cagayan province, Governor Manuel Mamba convened the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) for a pre-disaster risk assessment as the province was put on alert ahead of the typhoon.
Mamba stressed to local disaster response teams the need to “prepare our people,” citing lessons from typhoon
A liquor ban and sailing ban will be in effect starting today.
“What we experienced during super typhoon Ompong could happen again,” Mamba warned as he sought the cooperation of the public in government efforts to mitigate Rosita’s effects.
The Provincial Agriculture Office encouraged farmers to harvest their crops early to prevent crops from getting damaged by the typhoon.
Classes in all levels have also been suspended in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela on October 29, 30 and 30.
Read m0re: Cagayan prepares for Typhoon Rosita
Signals up today
Last night, PAGASA was preparing to raise tropical cyclone warning signals initially over the eastern section of Northern and Central Luzon.
Prior to its expected landfall, Rosita could already bring moderate to heavy rains over Northern and Central Luzon as early as this evening.
Likewise, strong to very strong winds are expected to affect the eastern section of Northern and Central Luzon.
In Metro Manila, Signal No. 1 could be raised by Monday evening, as rains and gusty winds may also affect the metropolis, Mendoza said.
PAGASA raised on Sunday a gale warning over the seaboards of Northern and Central Luzon, including the eastern seaboard of Southern Luzon, and coastlines of Visayas and Mindanao due to rough to very rough seas.
Mendoza pointed out that small sea vessels are no longer allowed to set sail into the seas of Batanes, Calayan Island, Babuyan Island, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Aurora, Zambales, Bataan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, eastern coasts of Albay, Sorsogon, and Quezon including Polilio Island, Northern and Eastern Samar, Surigao, Dinagat Island and Siargao.
Meanwhile, larger sea vessels should be alert against big waves.
PAGASA-Weather Division chief Esperanza Cayanan earlier advised those who will be traveling by sea to stay home once Signal No. 1 has been hoisted over their ports of origin or destination as sea travel will be automatically suspended.
By this morning, Rosita will be 460 km east-northeast of Casiguran, Aurora, and by Tuesday morning, in the vicinity of San Mariano Isabela.
By Wednesday morning, Rosita will be 200 km west of Sinait, Ilocos Sur, and by Thursday morning, at 445 km west-northwest of Sinait or outside the Philippine area of responsibility. (With reports from Francis Wakefield and Liezle Basa Iñigo)