MANILA, Philippines – “Butchoy” has intensified into a severe tropical storm, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said on Thursday.
In its 5 p.m. update, chief weather forecaster Robert Sawi said Butchoy (international codename: Guchol) is moving west northwest at a speed of 20 kilometers per hour (kph).
The storm was spotted 780 kilometers (km) east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar with maximum sustained winds of 95 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 120 kph.
PAGASA said the effects of the storm may be felt by the Bicol region and eastern Luzon late Friday or early Saturday.
The weather bureau said Butchoy is not expected to make landfall but may bring heavy rains and strong winds.
No public storm warning signals have been raised so far.
Butchoy, the second storm to enter the country this year, is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsiblity (PAR) by Tuesday.
Mindanao warned of floods
Mindanao has been told to prepare for severe tropical storm “Butchoy,” which entered the PAR Thursday morning.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said residents of Sarangani, Davao, and Surigao should brace themselves for floods as the storm continues to move towards the country.
NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos also warned fisherfolk in the provinces of Davao del Sur, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Surigao, Siargao, Dinagat, Eastern Samar, Southern Leyte and Bicol not to go out to sea.
“Ngayong nakapasok na sa Philippine Area of Responsibility, strictly speaking, nakikiusap ako please umuwi muna tayo at huwag muna tayo mangisda,” Ramos told dzMM on Thursday.
The NDRRMC is already coordinating with various government agencies for possible rescue and relief operations.
Authorities are also monitoring the water levels in reservoirs. They are particularly monitoring Magat Dam in Northern Luzon, which is in danger of overflowing.
“'Yung tubig na dala ng joint forces ni Butchoy at habagat, kung 15-25 [expected rainfall] plus dala ng habagat, kaya niyang punuin lahat ng mga dam. So, ang critical ngayon ay ang Magat Dam,” Ramos said.
PAGASA said Magat Dam is just 4.15 meters short from overflowing.
“Napaka-reactive ng Magat Dam. Doon pumupunta yung mga ulan. Ini-expect natin na magbubukas ng gates ang Magat Dam,” said PAGASA’s Roy Badillo. -- With a report from Aleta Nishimori, ABS-CBNnews.com