By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz and Liezle Basa Inigo
Tropical storm “Pepito” (international name: Saudel) has maintained its strength after making landfall over San Ildefonso peninsula in Casiguran, Aurora around 9 p.m., Tuesday.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said “Pepito” was already in the vicinity of Dinalungan, Aurora at around 10 p.m. as it started to cross the Northern and Central Luzon regions on its way to the West Philippine Sea.
Signal No. 2 remains hoisted over La Union, Pangasinan, Ifugao, Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Aurora, southern part of Isabela (Palanan, San Mariano, Benito Soliven, Naguilian, Gamu, Burgos, San Manuel, Aurora, Cabatuan, Luna, Reina Mercedes, Cauayan City, Dinapigue, San Guillermo, Angadanan, Alicia, San Mateo, Ramon, San Isidro, Echague, San Agustin, Jones, Santiago City, Cordon), southern Ilocos Sur (Sugpon, Alilem, Tagudin), northern portion of Zambales (Iba, Palauig, Masinloc, Candelaria, Santa Cruz, Botolan, Cabangan), northern portion of Bulacan (San Miguel, Doña Remedios Trinidad), northern Pampanga (Candaba, Arayat, Magalang, Mabalacat) and northern part of Quezon (General Nakar) including Polillo Island.
Signal No. 1 is still raised over Abra, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Bataan, Metro Manila, Rizal, the rest of northern Quezon (Infanta, Real), and the rest of Ilocos Sur, Isabela, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Zambales.
Isabela hit by floods
As this developed, the Isabela Provincial Police Office reported at midnight Tuesday that storm “Pepito” caused flood incidents in several places in Isabela, as some bridges became not passable to vehicles.
These bridges are:
1. Baculod Overflow Bridge at City of Ilagan
2. Ilagan City, Cabisera 8 Overflow Bridge
3. Cansan Overflow Bridge connecting Municipalities of Cabagan and Sto Tomas.
4. Mozzozzin Sur Overflow Bridge connecting Cabagan and Sta Maria.
5. Cauayan City Overflow Bridge (Alicao-cao)
6. Echague (Gucab Overflow Bridge)
7. Echague (Annafunan Overflow Bridge)
8. Sto. Domingo, Quirino Overflow Bridge
9. San Agustin (Sinaoangan Norte Overflow Bridge)
Police Captain Frances Littaua, spokesperson of Isabela Provincial Police, said at least 463 evacuation centers have been prepared by provincial authorities for evacuees, even as 420 first responders were on standby.
He said as of Tuesday night, the water level at Magat Dam was 187.50 meters with inflow of 313 cm and outflow of 231 cm.
He added that the police are in contact with all towns, except four coastal towns with unstable cellphone signal.
Storm to maintain its strength
PAGASA said the weather disturbance will likely maintain its strength while traversing the landmass.
However, a slight weakening in Pepito’s intensity remains a possibility.
It will re-emerge over the West Philippine Sea by Wednesday morning, and may intensify into a severe tropical storm on Thursday while over the sea.
Moderate to heavy rains will prevail over Central Luzon, Cordillera Administrative Region, northern Quezon, including Polillo Islands, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Isabela, mainland Cagayan, La Union, and Pangasinan.
Light to moderate with at times heavy rains will also affect Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, and Bangsamoro.
The weather bureau warned of possible flooding or rain-induced landslides during heavy or prolonged rainfall especially in areas that are highly susceptible to these hazards.
Areas under Signal Nos. 1 and 2 may also experience high to gale-force winds, as well as over Batanes, Babuyan Islands, and the coastal and/or mountainous areas of mainland Cagayan, Apayao, and Ilocos Norte due to the northeasterly surface wind flow enhanced by “Pepito.”
A gale warning remains in effect over the seaboards of Batanes, Cagayan, and Ilocos Norte and the western seaboards of Batangas, Occidental Mindoro, Lubang Island, Palawan, and Calamian Islands due to rough to very rough seas and waves that may reach 2.8 to 5 meters.
Likewise, the seaboards of areas under Signal Nos. 1 and 2 will be rough to very rough, with waves reaching up to 2.5 to 4.5 meters.
Sea travel is risky over these areas, especially for those using small boats, PAGASA warned.
Meanwhile, moderate to rough seas with waves that may reach 1.5 to 3.0 meters will prevail over the eastern seaboards of Southern Luzon, Eastern Visayas, Caraga, and Davao Region.
PAGASA advised that those using small boats should take necessary precautionary measures while venturing out to sea.
The weather bureau said “Pepito” will be at 315 km west of Dagupan City in Pangasinan by Wednesday evening, and outside the Philippine area of responsibility on Thursday.