MANILA, Philippines — Tropical Storm “Chedeng” (international codename: Pabuk) sideswiped the northern section of the country en route to Taiwan Tuesday and brought much-needed rain across a broad front, easing somewhat critical water supply levels in the region.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) raised Storm Signal No. 1 over Batanes and the Babuyan islands and said that winds of up to 60 kilometers per hour were expected there in the next 36 hours.
Big waves were likely in the area, said Prisco Nilo, PAGASA deputy director for operations.
Close on the heels of Chedeng, an active low pressure area was spotted 386 km east northeast of the Bicol region that might intensify into a tropical storm, according to PAGASA.
Thanks to the rain, the water levels in Angat Dam in Bulacan, Binga and Ambuklao dams in Benguet, Magat Dam in Isabela, and Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija have risen by a few centimeters.
“That’s due to the rain. It’s not substantial but at least it has helped raise the water level in our reservoirs,” PAGASA hydrologist Socrates Paat said in an interview.
Both weather disturbances are expected to induce the southwest monsoon (habagat) to bring more rain to the western section of Luzon and the Visayas on Thursday and Friday.
Prepare for worst
“We should prepare for the worst,” PAGASA weather branch chief Nathaniel Cruz said in an interview.
The bureau advised residents living on mountain slopes and in low-lying areas in Luzon to take measures against landslides and flash floods in the days ahead.
As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, Chedeng was spotted 330 km northeast of Basco, Batanes, or 350 km east of southern Taiwan.
The storm, with maximum sustained winds of 110 kph and gustiness of 140 kph, was moving west northwest at 19 kph. Wednesday morning, it was forecast to be over southern Taiwan.
The storm triggered moderate rainfall over the past 48 hours in most parts of Luzon that raised by a few centimeters the critical water levels of major dams.
Some 74.2 mm and 90.6 mm of rainfall were recorded in Metro Manila and Ilocos Norte, respectively, the two areas where the monsoon rain was strongest from Monday morning to Tuesday morning, according to PAGASA.
A two-month dry spell in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Cordillera Administrative Region and Metro Manila has led to a constant dip in the water elevation of the major dams to way below their critical levels.
The National Water Resources Board has proposed a fresh cutback in the supply of water from Angat Dam to residents in the metropolis and farms in Central Luzon beginning the middle of the month.
“This is supposed to be the rainiest month, but most parts of Luzon don’t even have half of the average rainfall for the month. It’s too early to say this will break the dry spell,” Cruz said.
He, however, said he hoped the rain in the coming days would “significantly increase” the water level in the dams.
Climatologists said that some 440 mm rainfall that would directly hit Angat watershed would bring its water level back to normal.
PAGASA has indicated that it is highly probable that the dry spell will worsen into a drought because of the below-than-normal-rainfall outlook for the month