Torrential rains in parts of Luzon, Visayas expected this weekend as storm Paeng intensifies

TROPICAL storm Paeng may intensify by Saturday into a typhoon, which means having maximum wind speed of 118 to 184 kilometers per hour (kph), and bring torrential rains in parts of Luzon and the Visayas, the state weather agency said on Thursday.   

Tropical cyclone wind signal #1 was already up over southern parts of the northern mainland Luzon, neighboring island provinces, and parts of Eastern Visayas in central Philippines.  

The wind signal alert prompted suspensions in sea travel.  

The Coast Guard station in Sorsogon had issued an advisory suspending all tripsto Northern Samar effective 11 a.m. Thursday.  

Paeng, the 16th storm to hit the country this year, was forecast to pass close to Catanduanes on Saturday and could possibly make landfall on Sunday in the eastern coast of Aurora or Quezon, PAGASA said in its 5 p.m. bulletin. 

Considering the southward shift in the forecast track, a possible landfall in the eastern portion of Bicol Region is not ruled out at this time,it added.   

The center of Paeng was located 510 kilometers east of Borongan City, Eastern Samar in central Philippines as of Thursday afternoon.   

It was slowly moving in a southwest direction with gale-force winds extending up to 480 km from the center.   

PAGASA said rapid intensificationin the next 72 hours was possible.   

Local governments on the typhoons path have been alerted by PAGASA to activate disaster preparedness plans, including preemptive evacuation of residents in areas at risk of flooding and landslides.   

The Energy department, meanwhile, has directed distribution utilities and other sector players to be ready for immediate response measures, “considering that we will be facing a long weekend when the tropical storm makes it landfall.”  

“The entire power system has to be protected; we have to make sure that generation plants are running. From the transmission lines to distribution, we have to be prepared,” Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said a virtual press briefing on Thursday.  

Nov. 1 is a regular Philippine holiday in observance of All SaintsDay when Filipinos traditionally pay respects to their dead, while Oct. 31 has been declared a special holiday this year.    

The Philippines, an archipelago with more than 7,000 islands, is struck by an average of 20 typhoons annually. Marifi S. Jara and Ashley Erika O. Jose