MANILA, Philippines – Tropical depression "Helen" may intensify into a tropical storm in the next 24 hours, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Monday.
PAGASA forecaster Samuel Duran said sea conditions remain favorable for Helen to develop into a storm, threatening to bring heavy rains over the Philippines by enhancing the southwest monsoon (habagat).
Duran said Helen is forecast to hit extreme northern Luzon, but may still bring rains to central and southern Luzon which are still reeling from the effects of the two weeks of raining from tropical cyclone "Gener" and the enhanced southwest monsoon.
"Within 24 hours baka lumakas ito at maging tropical storm. Mapapalakas nito ang paghatak ng habagat," Duran told dzMM.
"Kailangan po, magmatyag at maghanda po dahil maaaring sa ilang oras, magtataas na naman tayo ng mga warning signals," he added.
PAGASA said as of 7 a.m., Helen was located 600 kilometers east northeast of Casiguran, Aurora.
It was moving slowly at 9 kilometers per hour.
Duran said monsoon rains may be felt as early as Monday afternoon in Metro Manila and nearby areas.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said last week's torrential rains have left 92 people dead, most of whom were from Region 3 (Central Luzon).
In an interview on Sunday, Science Secretary Mario Montejo fears that Helen may cause floods anew, especially since it can bring rains into the already full Angat dam in Bulacan.
In an interview with dzMM, Montejo said: “Napakabigat ng sitwasyon…Ang Angat dam ay puno, ang lugar sa paligid nito ay baha. Tapos may darating na bagyo (The situation is grave. The Angat dam at this moment is full, and yet the areas around it are still flooded).”