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MANILA -- (UPDATE2 - 12:32 p.m.) The storm codenamed "Karen" has intensified into a typhoon as it continues to move over the East Philippine Sea.
Although not forecast to make landfall, Karen will continue to enhance the southwest monsoon or “habagat” and bring rains over the western section of Visayas and of Mindanao.
In its 11 a.m. update, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration tracked Karen to 760 kilometers east of Infanta, Quezon packing maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 150 kph as it moved northwest at 13 kph.
The storm is expected to be 600 km east of Tuguegarao City by Friday morning and 420 km east of Basco, Batanes by Saturday morning.
"Fishing boats and other small seacrafts are advised not to venture out into the eastern seaboard of Central and Southern Luzon, eastern seaboard of (the) Visayas and Mindanao due to strong winds generated by Typhoon Karen," PAGASA said.
Meanwhile, the Magat Dam in Isabela and Binga Dam in Benguet have opened their spill gates as their reservoirs started to rise beyond normal levels.
On the other hand, the water at the Binga dam reached 574.81 meters, close to its spilling level of 575 meters, prompting them to open one gate with 0.8 meter.
Schneider said although the water released from the Binga Dam flows downstream to the San Roque Dam in Pangasinan, the San Roque Dam can contain the spill.
"San Roque Dam's water level is still way below its normal water level of 280 meter at 277.73 meters as of 6 a.m.," Schneider said.
Meanwhile, the gate at the Ambuklao dam in Benguet which was opened 0.3 meter on Wednesday was closed at 12 a.m. Thursday after the water receded to 751.44 which is below its normal level of 752 meters, Schneider added.
The water level at La Mesa Dam in Novaliches, Quezon City remains below its spilling level as do the levels at Ipo and Angat dams, both in Bulacan, Pantabangan Dam and Caliraya.
Karen is expected to exit the Philippines during the weekend. (With a report from the Philippine News Agency)