Pagasa: Agaton won't go away, will bring more rains

By Helen Flores, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 22 2014 02:36 AM | Updated as of Jan 22 2014 10:36 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Tropical depression Agaton weakened into a low-pressure area but will continue to linger and bring more rain in the Visayas and Mindanao this week, the state weather bureau said yesterday.

Manny Mendoza, weather forecaster at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said the low-pressure area has a chance of re-intensifying into a cyclone.

The low-pressure area intensified into Tropical Depression Agaton after drenching Mindanao and the Visayas for a week, then weakened into a low-pressure area last Monday.

The weather disturbance has been dumping moderate to heavy rains as far north as the Bicol region since Jan. 10, triggering floods and landslides that killed more than 40 people.

Mendoza said the low-pressure area is likely to remain stationary off the waters of Davao City in the next few days due to the presence of two high-pressure areas north, preventing it to move northward.

He said the low-pressure area could still gain strength as it remains over the sea.

As of 11 a.m., the low-pressure area was spotted at 465 kilometers east of Davao City.

“This weather system will bring cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms over the regions of Eastern Visayas, Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental which may trigger flashfloods and landslides,” PAGASA said.

Light to moderate rains and thunderstorms would prevail over the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao.

PAGASA also warned against rough seas in Luzon, the Visayas and the Caraga region due to the surge of the northeast monsoon.

“Small seacraft and fishing vessels are advised not to venture out to sea due to big waves generated by this weather system,” it said.

Almost two weeks of heavy rains have resulted not only in widespread flooding in Caraga Region, but also in Western and Northern Mindanao and Davao region, displacing 43,417 families or 203,022 individuals out of the 168,492 families or 809,686 individuals.

The entire province of Compostela Valley has been placed under a state of calamity after it was among the areas badly affected by heavy rains since last week.

At least four towns of Compostela Valley – Monkayo, New Bataan, Compostela and Montevista – were considered to be the worst affected.

Officials said the damage to agriculture could reach P108.61 million, while infrastructure damage was placed at P23.3 million.

Several areas of eastern and northern Mindanao continued to be flooded due to the heavy rains even after Agaton was downgraded to a low-pressure area.

Classes resumed in most parts of Mindanao yesterday after storm signals were lifted.

However, some roads remained impassable due to floods and landslides, affecting thousands of motorists and commuters.

Motorists and commuters traveling between Cagayan de Oro City and Butuan City are still stranded as work to repair the washed out approach of a major bridge continues.

The Mambayaan Bridge in Balingasag town was impassable when one of its approaches was totally washed away by floodwaters.

The bridge links the major cities of northern Mindanao and Caraga regions. There was no detour in the area.

In Butuan City, hundreds of residents had to be evacuated from their flooded communities as the water level in the Agusan River continued to rise. – Jaime Laude, Edith Regalado, John Unson, Gerry Lee-Gorit