(UPDATE) 'Ramil' forecast to make landfall Thursday
Floodgates still open at 5 dams
DOST-PAGASA MTSAT-EIR Satellite Image for 6 p.m. 19 Oct. 2009.
MANILA - Typhoon Ramil (international code name Lupit) is expected to make landfall at extreme northern Luzon by Thursday morning or afternoon, weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) reported Monday afternoon.
As of 4 p.m., the typhoon was located 1,070 kilometers east of Aparri, Cagayan and continues to grow more powerful. It was reported to be packing maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 230 kph.
In the PAGASA's 5 p.m. press conference, PAGASA weather bureau chief Nathaniel Cruz said that the typhoon is expected to make landfall over the extreme northern Luzon by Thursday morning or afternoon.
PAGASA forecast track for typhon Ramil, as of 4 p.m. 19 Oct. 2009
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Cruz explained that the typhoon is expected to move west northwest in the next 24 hours, then move in a west southwest direction on Tuesday and Wednesday, targeting Cagayan.
Eastern sections of Northern Luzon will experience cloudy weather with rainshowers by Tuesday evening, and will experience stormy weather on Thursday as the typhoon approaches.
Strong to gale force winds over the eastern sections of Luzon will also be felt as the typhoon approaches.
Meanwhile, in the next 2 days, scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms will be felt mostly in the afternoon or evening over southern Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, due to the presence of an intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ).
As for the status of the major dams in Luzon, the PAGASA's Flood Forecasting Branch reported that as of 4 p.m., 5 out of 7 dams in Central and Northern Luzon still have open floodgates to let water out of their reservoirs.
These dams are Ambuklao (4 gates opened, water release at 65 cubic meters per second), Binga (1 gate, 177 cms), San Roque (2 gates, 429 cms), Pantabangan (1 gate, 220 cms), and Magat (1 gate, 559 cms).
The floodgates of Angat and Ipo dams which have been open over the weekend have already closed earlier in the morning.
Provincial officials of Benguet and Pangasinan have ordered the pre-emptive evacuation of residents in disaster-prone areas in preparation for Typhoon Ramil. This even as the two provinces are trying to recover from the devastation wrought by the recent storms Pepeng and Ondoy.
In La Trinidad, Benguet, more than 230 families were moved to safer ground after landslides left hundreds and missing at the height of Pepeng.
Meantime, Pangasinan officials including the police will meet later Monday to coordinate their efforts in anticipation of the new storm.
Twin storms' death toll near 1,000
The death toll from two devastating storms that struck the Philippines over the past month has risen to 858, with ensuing disease outbreaks killing 89 others, the government said Monday.
The latest National Disaster Coordinating Council toll is up from 818 on Sunday.
It said Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana) left 420 dead and 37 missing when it flooded 80 percent of Manila on September 26, a disaster the government said affected 4.35 million people.
Some areas are still flooded three weeks later and 189,000 people remain in evacuation centres, it added.
Typhoon Pepeng (Parma) hit northern Luzon on October 3 and lingered as a tropical storm for a week, triggering landslides that killed 438 people and leaving 51 missing mostly in mountain communities.
The government agency said Pepeng affected 4.16 million people, including more than 32,000 who remain at evacuation centres.
The health department said leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that can lead to kidney failure and is caused by exposure to animal urine in flood waters, later killed at least 89 people. With a report from the Agence France-Presse