At least 20 Luzon areas under storm warnings

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    AT least 20 areas in Luzon, including Metro Manila, were placed under storm signal warnings yesterday as “Pepito” intensified into a tropical storm from a tropical depression.

    Pepito is expected to exit the Philippine area of responsibility on Thursday when it may also further intensify into severe tropical storm, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

    In a bulletin issued at 8 p.m. yesterday, PAGASA said 15 areas were under signal No. 2.

    These are La Union, Pangasinan, Ifugao, Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Aurora, southern portion of Isabela, southern portion of Ilocos Sur, northern portion of Zambales, northern portion of Bulacan, northern portion of Pampanga and northern portion of Quezon.

    Under signal No. 1 were Metro Manila, Abra, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Bataan, Rizal, northern portion of Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, rest of northern portion of Quezon, and rest of Zambales.

    PAGASA said Pepito was forecast to make landfall in Aurora last night. It will then move generally westward while traversing the Luzon landmass, and emerge over the West Philippine Sea this morning, PAGASA said.

    As of 7 p.m yesterday, Pepito was some 70 km east of Baler, Aurora. It is was moving west northwest at 25 kph, packing maximum winds of 75 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 90 kph.

    Pepito will bring moderate to heavy rains in Central Luzon and Mimaropa regions, and the provinces of Camarines Norte, Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Isabela, mainland Cagayan, La Union, Pangasinan, and Benguet until this morning.

    Light to moderate with at times heavy rains will be experienced in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, and Bangsamoro.

    “Flooding (including flash floods) and rain-induced landslides may occur during heavy or prolonged rainfall especially in areas that are highly or very highly susceptible to these hazards,” PAGASA said.

    Ricardo Jalad, executive officer of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, said Camarines Sur and Quezon experienced heavy rains ahead of the landfall.

    But no major flooding has been monitored.

    Jalad said the agency is well-prepared to respond to the effects of the storm. He noted that the council had a pre-disaster risk assessment meeting on Monday at the NDRRMC office in Camp Aguinaldo.

    “We released memorandum to national government agencies, regional disaster disaster risk reduction management councils and LGUs for preparedness that they have to do,” he also said.

    Isabela Gov. Rodito Albano said the province has prepositioned relief goods for families that may be affected by Pepito.

    Albano said evacuation centers have been also prepared for residents who may be displaced.

    “Everything is prepositioned, including food for our constituents, in case something bad happens. We are well ready,” said Albano.