Pepito to intensify as it exits Philippines
Residents ride a bamboo raft to cross a flooded street in Barangay Canda in Lopez, Quezon yesterday.
Gerry Lee Gorit
Pepito to intensify as it exits Philippines
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - October 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Tropical Storm Pepito is expected to intensify into a severe storm as it exits the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) today.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Pepito was out of the country’s landmass as of 11 a.m. yesterday as it moved west at 30 kilometers per hour with maximum sustained winds of 85 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 105 kph.

“Pepito is forecast to gradually intensify over the West Philippine Sea and may reach severe tropical storm category by tonight or tomorrow morning,” PAGASA weather specialist Loriedin de la Cruz said yesterday.

De la Cruz said moderate to heavy rains would prevail over Luzon and the Visayas while Mindanao is expected to experience a generally fine weather.

He said Pepito is expected to be in Vietnam tomorrow.

PAGASA is monitoring another tropical depression, but De la Cruz said there is a slim chance that it would enter PAR.

As of 10 a.m. yesterday, the weather system was spotted 1,895 kms east-northeast of extreme northern Luzon with maximum sustained winds of 55 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 70 kph.

Widespread flooding

More than 5,000 families in Calabarzon and Cagayan Valley have been affected by widespread flooding due to heavy rains spawned by Pepito.

Casiano Monilla, Office of Civil Defense deputy administrator for operations, said most of the affected families are from Calabarzon.

In Quezon, Gov. Danilo Suarez said many areas remained flooded.

Suarez said the floods were ”unprecedented” and residents of remote barangays were brought to evacuation centers on rubber boats.

The Isabela provincial disaster risk reduction and management office conducted preemptive evacuation of around 100 families in Maconacon and Dinapigue towns.

Eleven overflow bridges in Isabela were rendered impassable.

The National Irrigation Administration released water from Magat Dam yesterday after it reached spilling level.

In Cagayan, 86 houses in Barangay Gagabutan in Rizal town were submerged in floodwaters.

Power interruption was reported in parts of Cagayan and Kalinga after heavy rains damaged power lines.

At least 37 barangays in Masantol and Macabebe towns in Pampanga were inundated.

A total of 335 families in coastal barangays in Aurora also evacuated their homes due to flooding.

As this developed, the Agno River Basin Flood Forecasting and Warning Center warned the public against flash floods and landslides in river basins in Pangasinan and Tarlac.

Mayon lahar threat

Meanwhile, the Albay provincial government is monitoring the slopes of Mayon Volcano after lahar and mud flows rendered a portion of the road in Barangay Tandarora in Guinobatan not passable.

Floods about three feet deep were reported in Barangay Maninila in Guinobatan.

The town, which is within the six-kilometer radius permanent danger zone of Mayon, was worst-hit by an avalanche of volcanic debris at the height of Super Typhoon Reming in 2006. — Michael Punongbayan, Neil Jayson Servallos, Raymund Catindig, Ding Cervantes, Cet Dematera, Eva Visperas

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