By ERWIN MASCARIÑAS
and NITZ ARANCON
A LOW pressure area tracking towards Gen. Santos and Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, is expected to enter Philippine territory today but weather forecasters said it’s unlikely to intensify into a storm until it hovers over the Sulu Sea on Thursday.
The Philippine Atmospheric Geographical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the weather system would move across Mindanao, likely make landfall in Davao Oriental and slowly track towards Compostela Valley, Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.
Daezyree Flores, a weather specialist at Pagasa’s station in El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental, said the low pressure areas was approximately 290 kilometers east of Gen. Santos City and was moving westward as of 2 pm yesterday. It had been estimated at 405 kilometers east of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur in a 3:30 am Pagasa advisory.
Flores said Pagasa was expecting moderate to heavy rains in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental starting tonight until tomorrow morning.
Flores said it is unlikely for the low pressure area to develop into a storm while it hovers over land but it could pick up strength and turn into one the moment it reaches the Sulu Sea.
“Pag-abot niya didto sa Sulu Sea sa Thursday, mahimo na siyang bagyo ug tawgon dayons siya sa ngalan nga tropical depression ‘Samuel’,” Flores said.
In Butuan, Pagasa issued a general flood advisory warning for the five provinces of Caraga.
The advisory included a 12-hour rainfall forecast on moderate to occasionally heavy rains that could make rivers and tributaries in Agusan del Sur swell, particularly the Ojot, Wawa, Libang, Maosam, Kasilan, Gibong, Agaoan, Sinulao, Kayonan and Andanan rivers.
Pagasa said people living near the mountain slopes and in the low-lying areas of the river systems and the local disaster risk reduction and management councils concerned should take necessary precautions.
The weather bureau said it has been raining in some areas of Caraga since 1:45 am yesterday. While the rains weakened “we cannot be too complacent as the intensity of the rainfall varies from one area to another,” said Lolita Vinalay, chief meteorological officer of Pagasa in Butuan.
Vinalay said the rains were brought about by a cloud cluster that is due to the trough of the low pressure area.
A trough is an extension of a low pressure area where a tropical cyclone can form.
Liza Maso, regional director of Office of Civil Defense in Caraga, said the region’s disaster risk reduction and management council has raised the alert level.
“Caraga region is experiencing heavy rains due to the LPA that may last for a few days. The public is warned against floodings, flashfloods and landslides,” said Maso.
She noted that the period between November and December is a time when Caraga usually experiences floodings and landslides.
“That is why everyone should be vigilant and should continue to monitor the situation,” she said.