EDSA like a 'parking lot'; MMDA chief says 'not so bad' at 10 p.m.
MANILA - Heavy rain and floods caused nightmare traffic jams across Metro Manila Monday night, with its main thoroughfare EDSA looking like a parking lot for several hours.
The traffic gridlock occurred amid the early evening rush hour, with tens of thousands of motorists and commuters left fuming.
Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook were flooded with photos and videos of people stuck in traffic.
Bayan Patroller Ronald Omanya said it took him 2 hours to go from Julia Vargas to Ortigas Extension in Pasig.
EDSA Magallanes also became a virtual trap for vehicles, based on shots taken by Bayan Patroller Jaser Marasigan.
The situation was also the same for Ayala northbound.
Ix Cepeda, a a speechwriter of Vice-President Jejomar Binay, told ABS-CBNNews.com that it took him several hours to get home.
"Left the Coconut Palace at 5:30pm. Arrived home (Don Antonio Hts) 9pm na. Hell ang traffic, Chairman. HELL!!!" he said.
Lawyer Cecille Soria, meanwhile, said it took her 2 and a half hours to travel from Ortigas to Fairview.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, in an interview with ANC, downplayed the traffic gridlock.
He said the traffic situation as of 10 p.m. was "not so bad" anymore.
Tolentino said floods on some major roads were caused by clogged drainage systems.
"We had standstill at Tiendesitas but my men removed galvanized iron there. Floods subsided in Quezon Avenue and Biak na Bato," he said.
"We had a flooding situation along Ortigas but that's due to ongoing drainage improvements in the area," he added.
"Traffic is now better than two hours ago when there were still floods," he said.
He claimed it's now "green and go" along EDSA and España.
"We had some congestion. España was congested two hours ago."
He said Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo told him that heavy rains will last until the weekend.
"We advise the public to take necessary precaution. We might have repeat of flooding in Biak na Bato, Maceda, España, and Blumentritt," Tolentino said.
According to state weather bureau PAGASA, the heavy rains are caused by the southwest monsoon made more intense by tropical depression Emong.
Heavy rain also fell in other provinces.
PAGASA urged residents of Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Bulacan and parts of Pampanga, Cavite, Quezon, Batangas, Hinatuan, Bislig, San Isidro, Monkayo, Compostela Valley, Tagum, and parts of Cotabato to be on alert.
Yellow alert lifted
At 8:30 pm, PAGASA raised a yellow alert (heavy rainfall) over parts of Metro Manila but lifted it before midnight.
However, it urged the public to continue closely monitoring the weather.
Under the heavy rainfall warning system, a yellow warning is raised when the expected rainfall amount is between 7.5 mm to 15 mm within one hour and likely to continue, according to the Palace.
Areas covered by this advisory should be aware of the weather, particularly the threat of flooding in low-lying areas.
An orange alert (intense rain) is raised in areas where rainfall is between 15 mm to 30 mm within one hour.
Flooding is a definite threat in communities under the yellow alert, according to Manuel Quezon III, undersecretary for the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office.
Meanwhile, a red alert is issued when the downpour constitutes an emergency.
This is raised when observed rainfall is more than 30 mm within one hour or if rainfall has continued for the past three hours and is more than 65 mm, Quezon said in a blog post.
PAGASA: Emong may intensify
PAGASA, in its 11 p.m. advisory, said Tropical Depression Emong had maintained its strength just east of the Philippines.
It was last spotted 340 kilometers east of Daet, Camarines Norte.
The storm was packing maximum winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center and was moving north-northwest at 9 kph.
Emong was carrying estimated rainfall of 5-15 mm per hour (moderate - heavy) within its the 300 km diameter.
"Tropical Depression Emong is still far to directly affect any part of the country. However, it will enhance the southwest monsoon which will bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms over Southern Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao," PAGASA said.
The weather bureau warned that Emong is likely to intensify within the next 24 hours. - with reports from Doris Bigornia, ABS-CBN News; ANC