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MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE 5:19PM)A storm just outside the Philippine area of responsibility intensified into a typhoon on Saturday and is forecast to make a direct hit on Bohol early next week, with PAGASA experts raising the possibility that its enormous scope, wind strength and speed and rain component could match those of “Typhoons Reming and Ondoy combined.”
The latest bulletin from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center said typhoon “Bopha” (Khmer for “flower”), which will be named “Pablo” when it enters PAR, is likely to make landfall over Bohol by Tuesday.
The storm, the 16th to visit the country this year, currently packs maximum winds of up to 166 kilometers per hour with gusts of up to 203 kph.
At 2 a.m., the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the storm was 1,760 kilometers east of southern Mindanao as it moved west at 20 kph.
It may enter PAR by Monday.
The typhoon is also embedded along the intertropical convergence zone, which means it may pack more rains.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council already hoisted the blue alert status and has prompted local governments to "undertake preliminary measures" in preparation for the typhoon.
OCD-Bicol issues advisory
The Office of Civil Defense in Bicol (OCD-5) and the Albay provincial government have issued advisories on the activation of disaster risk reduction management councils in preparation for the approaching Tropical Storm Pablo (Typhoon Bopha).
PAGASA regional weatherman Liberato Dalida Jr. briefed the RDRRMC and PDRRMC on the latest tracking of the storm.
Dalida added there is a possibility that TS Pablo’s enormous scope, wind strength and speed and rain component could match those of “Typhoons Reming and Ondoy combined.”
Full-blown preemptive evacuation in Albay will start on December 4 after PAGASA released its Saturday morning update predicting a 90-percent possibility that the tropical storm may enter the PAR) either by Sunday or Monday morning.
The OCD-chaired Regional disaster risk reduction management council (RDRRMC) and the Albay provincial disaster risk reduction management council (PDRRMC) met Saturday morning with member-agencies to lay out “zero casualty” measures, particularly if the tropical storm becomes a super typhoon.
PAGASA’s Dalida said a 45-year historical background of typhoons originating from between 5 to 10 degrees in north latitude entering PAR, much like TS Pablo, follow an almost similar path.
On December 4, it is estimated that Pablo will be nearest Albay at 200 kilometers from its center (eye) and could pack gustiness of up to 180 kilometers per hour.
OCD-5 Director Raffy Alejandro placed the PDRRMC and member-agencies under a 24-hour red alert status.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) assured preparedness for the possible conduct of search and rescue; the provincial agricultural services office will immediately conduct inventory of fishermen to be affected; the Department of Education (DepEd) has identified classrooms to be used as evacuation centers.
Salceda also directed the month-long Karangahan Festival celebration to be placed “on hold” starting December 4.
NDRRMC on blue alert
The NDRRMC is on blue alert status. Benito Ramos, Executive Director of NDRRMC, said the blue alert status requires half of the agency’s personnel to be ready for contingencies.
Ramos also said the personnel on duty should coordinate efforts to ensure zero casualty.
The NDRRMC also said it has directed the disaster risk reduction and management councils at the local level to prepare residents to evacuate if needed.
”Office of Civil Defense centers were instructed to undertake precautionary measures in their respective areas of responsibility," the NDRRMC said.
The agency also advised local disaster risk reduction and management councils to "initiate preemptive evacuation of families in low-lying and mountainous areas if the situation warrants."