By NITZ ARANCON
TYPHOON “Ompong,” which has the potentials of intensifying into what is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, brought the threat for flooding rainfall to the country yesterday but while the worst of the impacts are expected in the northern tip of Luzon, it has enhanced the prevailing southwest monsoon affecting Mindanao.
Despite the super typhoon’s northern Luzon track, the prevailing west wind in Mindanao has been feeding on “Ompong,” spawning rains here and elsewhere in Mindanao yesterday. The same conditions are expected until the weekend.
Humidity, frequent heavy rainfall, and winds from the west characterize the habagat season or the southwest monsoon. “Ompong” has been enhancing these characteristics, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
“Gipakusog man gud ni ‘Ompong’ ang hanging habagat. Ma-o nang dili malikayan ang mga pag-ulan dinhi sa ato kay ang hagabat magdala man pud siya og mga moisture nga mahimong panagod ug moresulta gihapon sa mga localized thunderstorms,” explained June Frivaldo, a weather specialist at Pagasa’s Mindanao station in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental.
Due to the enhanced west wind, Pagasa issued a gale warning for the eastern areas on Mindanao, according to Frivaldo.
There, she said, sea travel has become dangerous because of big waves.
Frivaldo said the habagat would continue to draw power from “Ompong” until the typhoon exits Philippine territory. But even without “Ompong,” the southwest monsoon would continue to prevail and bring rains.
She said September is habagat month, and the conditions are expected to change between November and December when the northeast monsoon or the amihan takes over.
Frivaldo called on local governments and communities to be cautious and prepared because the rains could result in damaging landslides and floods especially in urban areas.
“Ömpong” has been forecast to make landfall in Cagayan on Saturday, and exit on Sunday.
The capitol and city hall continued preparations in anticipation of emergency cases.
Fernando Vincent Dy, head of the capitol’s disaster risk reduction management office, said the provincial government’s rescue teams have been on alert since typhoon “Neneng” hit the country.
Dy said the capitol’s rescue equipment, vehicles, and rescuers are on stand-by mode on orders from Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano.
Mayor Oscar Moreno issued a similar order to the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Department.
Allan Porcadilla, CDRRMD chief, said Moreno has ordered an inventory of rescue equipment and personnel to make sure city hall can quickly respond to emergency situations.
Porcadilla said the CDRRMD has been placed on “red alert” to ensure zero casualty in case weather conditions worsen.
“Bisan layo ra ta dinhi sa maong bagyo pero basin maigo ta sa ikog. Mao nang nag-red alert gyud ta,” Porcadilla said.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has been placed on “red alert” along with its response cluster in anticipation of the potentially deadly typhoon, said NDRRMC executive director Ricardo Jalad.
“The National Council is closely monitoring actions and preparations on the threats of the incoming typhoon in close coordination with its Regional DRRM Councils. This is to ensure the orchestrated response of the government to address the safety and welfare of communities likely to be affected,” Jalad added in a statement.
Also, the Department of the Interior and Local Government has activated its reporting systems to closely monitor the preparations of local governments concerned particularly the implementation of pre-emptive evacuation.
While the Department of Social Welfare and Development has ensured the prepositioning of food and non-food items on the ground, and is preparing for possible augmentation of relief supplies to affected-communities.
Likewise, through the Department of Health, health teams, medicines and medical supplies have been pre-positioned for immediate access of those in need. Jalad said the Logistics Cluster led by the Office of Civil Defense has ensured that land, air, and sea assets are in place to immediately transport additional teams and supplies to stricken areas if necessary. (with reports from PNA)