Flash floods, landslides feared on Christmas Day

A low pressure area, which an international agency already classifies as a tropical depression, threatens residents affected by 'Pablo'

APPROACHING MINDANAO. A low pressure area threatens residents in areas affected by 'Pablo.' PAGASA satellite image as of 4:30 pm

MANILA, Philippines – Rain will fall in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental on Tuesday, December 25, a bitter reminder of the typhoon that killed over 1,000 people weeks before Christmas.

Triggered by a low pressure area (LPA) approaching Mindanao, the rain could cause flash floods and landslides, disaster officials warned Monday, December 24. 

In a special forecast, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental will experience occasional light to moderate rains on Monday night until Tuesday morning. This means 1-5 mm/h of rain on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

PAGASA expects the LPA to make landfall on Christmas Day.

On Wednesday and Thursday, December 26 and 27, PAGASA said Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental – provinces hardest hit by Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) – will experience occasional to frequent moderate to heavy rain. This means rain of 5-10 mm/h.

The rain will come from the LPA that is expected to affect the Caraga, Eastern Visayas, and Bicol regions, among others. In its 5 pm weather bulletin on Monday, PAGASA estimated the LPA at 480 km east of northern Mindanao.

The projected rainfall from the LPA, however, is low compared to previously disastrous storms.

Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi), which killed around 1,400 people in 2011, for example, dumped up to 50 mm/h of rain. This is 5 to 10 times the rainfall expected to be brought by the LPA.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), for its part, has already classified the LPA a tropical depression.

In its latest bulletin, the JMA said the tropical depression packs a maximum wind speed of 15 m/s near the center – barely a fraction of the 165 km/h speed that Pablo packed at the typhoon’s peak.

‘Proactive actions, please’

Disaster officials said they remain prepared for the LPA, nonetheless.

In an advisory on Monday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) warned local officials against possible flash floods and landslides in the Bicol region, the Visayas, and Mindanao, particularly over Samar, Leyte, Agusan, and Surigao.

NDRRMC executive director Usec Benito Ramos urged local officials to diesseminate disaster warnings through community leaders and media outlets. “Emphasis should be on proactive actions – evacuation rather than rescue,” Ramos said.

“Let us untiringly aim for zero casualties,” he added, echoing a similar call before Typhoon Pablo struck the Philippines.

Disaster scientist Mahar Lagmay, who is at the forefront of the government’s Project Noah, on Monday warned against the new “rivers” formed by Pablo. The new rivers threaten residents as they cover populated areas, Lagmay earlier told ABS-CBN News

Christmas remained bleak for some 24,500 families affected by Pablo. In Cateel and Banganga, Davao Oriental, residents told Rappler they have nothing to offer on the Christmas table aside from prayers.

CELEBRATE LIFE. Residents of Davao Oriental are eager to celebrate Christmas with or without food on their tables. Photo by Karlos Manlupig

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