'Butchoy' maintains strength as Signal No. 1 hoisted over Samar

Typhoon Butchoy's satellite image from the JTWC
The online news portal of TV5

(4th update 6:00 p.m.) "Butchoy," the second storm to enter the Philippines this year, has maintained its strength as it moved closer to Eastern Samar, prompting state forecasters to raise public storm signals in the area.

In its 5 p.m. bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) spotted "Butchoy" 500 kilometers east southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. It has maximum sustained winds of 110 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 140 kph.

From 15 kph, Butchoy slowed down further to 11 kph, picking up more strength and increasing its diameter to 400 km. It still packs very heavy rains that could reach between 15 and 25 millimeters per hour.

Storm Signal 1 is hoisted over the entire Eastern Samar, also a landslide and flashflood prone area, as it is nearest to the slow-moving storm.

Local residents could expect twigs and branches of trees to be broken, while some roofs of nipa and cogon houses may be blown away by the strong winds. Small fishing vessels are also prohibited from sailing off the coast since waves are high and winds are strong.

Pagasa continued to categorize Butchoy as a "severe tropical storm" and has not upgraded it yet to typhoon status, despite the latest data from the Joint Typhoon Weather Center (JTWC).

The JTWC, in its latest bulletin, upgraded Butchoy to a typhoon after it reached maximum winds of 90 knots per hour or nearly 167 kph.

A typhoon is categorized by maximum winds that reach more than 118 kph.

Butchoy won't make landfall but may pull the prevailing southwest monsoon or Habagat further to the country.

View Severe Tropical Storm 'Butsoy' in a larger map

On Saturday afternoon, Pagasa expects the storm to be within 330 kilometers east of Borongan in Eastern Samar. By Sunday afternoon, it will be 410 kilometers east southeast of Casiguran, Aurora and will be within 320 kilometers southeast of Basco, Batanes by Monday afternoon.

Based on TV5's Metra Weather System, strong rains will prevail over northeast and northwest Luzon on Sunday.

The areas that will mostly be affected are the Ilocos provinces, Aurora, Cagayan, parts of Quezon and the Cordilleras.

Butchoy may also leave a tail of low pressure area (developing storm) that will affect eastern Visayas till Friday.

Local officials in Isabela are also keeping a close eye on Magata dam, which is the first to fill up during a storm.

Magat may release water on Friday or Saturday in preparation for the anticipated heavy downpour over the weekend. All major dams in Luzon are still below spilling level.

Meanwhile, waves remain rough over the western, northern and eastern seabords of Luzon and Visayas as the southwest monsoon is pulled in by Butchoy.

Light seacraft are prohibited from travelling off the coast as waves may reach more than 4.5 meters high.

Residents in sea communities in Catanduanes and Mindoro have begun taking their boats further inland in preparation for the strong waves or possible storm surges caused by Butchoy.

Based on the latest weather models from Pagasa and JTWC, Butchoy may remain in the country till Tuesday.