Philippine tropical cyclones

Still reeling from Rolly, Bicol told to brace for Ulysses

Acor Arceo
Still reeling from Rolly, Bicol told to brace for Ulysses

Satellite image of Tropical Storm Ulysses (Vamco) as of November 19, 2020, 11:30 am.

Image from NOAA

'Huwag po tayong [maging] kampante.... Talagang malakas po itong bagyo na tatama sa atin,' says PAGASA official Landrico Dalida Jr

The state weather bureau warned Bicol to prepare for the onslaught of Ulysses (Vamco), which remained a tropical storm on Tuesday morning, November 10, but could be a typhoon by the time it nears the region or hits it directly.

Bicol was battered by Super Typhoon Rolly (Goni) just over a week ago, with the province of Catanduanes worst hit.

In a press briefing past 11 am on Tuesday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Ulysses is now 475 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes, still located over the Philippine Sea.

The tropical storm slightly accelerated to a speed of 15 kilometers per hour (km/h), from its slow movement in the early hours of Tuesday.

It also slightly intensified, and now has maximum sustained winds of 75 km/h from the previous 65 km/h and gustiness of up to 90 km/h from the previous 80 km/h. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Here are the areas under Signal No. 1 as of 11 am on Tuesday, with more towns in Quezon added.

  • Catanduanes
  • Camarines Norte
  • Camarines Sur
  • Albay
  • Sorsogon
  • eastern part of Masbate (Aroroy, Pio V. Corpuz, Cataingan, Palanas, Uson, Dimasalang, Masbate City, Mobo, Baleno) including Ticao and Burias Islands
  • southern part of Quezon (Atimonan, Padre Burgos, Agdangan, Unisan, Plaridel, Gumaca, Pitogo, Macalelon, General Luna, Lopez, Catanauan, Mulanay, San Francisco, San Andres, San Narciso, Buenavista, Guinayangan, Tagkawayan, Calauag, Quezon, Alabat, Perez)
  • Northern Samar
  • northern part of Samar (Santo Niño, Almagro, Tagapul-an, Tarangnan, Calbayog City, Santa Margarita, Gandara, Pagsanghan, San Jorge, San Jose de Buan, Matuguinao)
  • northern part of Eastern Samar (Maslog, Dolores, Oras, San Policarpo, Arteche, Jipapad)

Light to moderate rain from Ulysses, as well as the tail-end of a cold front, will also be experienced on Tuesday. The rain may be heavy at times, which could trigger floods, landslides, and lahar flows.

PAGASA added more areas in the Visayas and Mindanao to the list of areas to be affected by rainfall.

Due to Ulysses

  • Aurora
  • Quezon
  • Bicol
  • Eastern Visayas
  • Central Visayas
  • Caraga
  • Zamboanga Peninsula
  • Basilan
  • Sulu
  • Tawi-Tawi

Due to tail-end of a cold front

  • Cagayan including Babuyan Islands
  • Isabela
  • Apayao

Ulysses may intensify further into a severe tropical storm on Tuesday evening, then into a typhoon by Wednesday morning, November 11.

As a typhoon, it may reach its peak intensity of 130 to 155 km/h on Wednesday afternoon or evening.

“Landfall at or near peak intensity is highly likely,” warned PAGASA.

There are still two scenarios for Ulysses’ landfall.

The first is that it could make landfall in Quezon on Thursday morning, November 12, after going very near Catanduanes on Wednesday afternoon and Camarines Norte on Wednesday evening.

The second is that it may make landfall in Bicol on Wednesday afternoon or evening. There is an “increasing likelihood” of this happening, according to PAGASA, due to the “slight southward shift” in Ulysses’ projected track.

“Mamayang gabi hanggang bukas ang pinaka-critical po na mga oras…. Pinakamalapit diyan sa Catanduanes bukas ng hapon…at pinakamalapit naman sa Daet (in Camarines Norte), gabi na…. Dapat ngayon po ay handa na po tayo,” said PAGASA Deputy Administrator for Operations and Services Landrico Dalida Jr.

(Tonight until tomorrow will be the most critical time. It will be closest to Catanduanes tomorrow afternoon and closest to Daet in the evening. We should be prepared by now.)

“Huwag po tayong [maging] kampante…. Talagang malakas po itong bagyo na tatama sa atin,” Dalida added.

(Let’s not be complacent. The tropical cyclone set to hit us will really be strong.)

The state weather bureau said more areas in Calabarzon will be placed under Signal No. 1 in its next bulletin at 5 pm on Tuesday. As early as Tuesday evening, Signal No. 2 may also be raised in parts of Bicol.

The highest possible tropical cyclone wind signal that could be raised due to Ulysses is Signal No. 3.

In addition, the state weather bureau warned of a “moderate to high risk” of storm surges 1 to 2 meters high in the next 48 hours. These are the potential areas:

  • coastal areas of Calabarzon, Aurora, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Albay, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Romblon, and Marinduque
  • western coastal area of Masbate including Burias Island
  • northern coastal areas of Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro including Lubang Island

“These storm surges, which may be accompanied by swells and breaking waves reaching the coast, can cause life-threatening and damaging coastal inundation,” PAGASA said.

Meanwhile, travel is risky in the next 24 hours, especially for small vessels, in the seaboards listed below.

Rough to very rough seas (waves 2.5 to 5 meters high)

Due to Ulysses

  • seaboards of areas under Signal No. 1
  • eastern seaboard of Eastern Samar (parts not under Signal No. 1)

Due to surge of northeast monsoon

  • seaboards of Northern Luzon
  • seaboards of Kalayaan Islands

Small vessels must take precautionary measures when venturing out to sea in the areas below, added PAGASA.

Moderate to rough seas
  • western seaboards of Central Luzon and Southern Luzon
  • eastern seaboard of Mindanao

Ulysses could exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Friday, November 13.

Forecast track of Tropical Storm Ulysses (Vamco) as of November 10, 2020, 11 am.
Image from PAGASA

Ulysses is the Philippines’ 21st tropical cyclone for 2020 – already above the yearly average of 20. (READ: LIST: PAGASA’s names for tropical cyclones in 2020)

For the next 6 months, these are PAGASA’s estimates for tropical cyclones inside PAR:

  • November 2020 – 1 to 3
  • December 2020 – 2 or 3
  • January 2021 – 0 or 1
  • February 2021 – 0 or 1
  • March 2021 – 0 or 1
  • April 2021 – 0 or 1

Since October, La Niña has been underway, which means there is more rain than usual.

Then in November, the northeast monsoon began, signaling “surges of cold temperatures.”

PAGASA warned that La Niña may enhance the northeast monsoon, which could trigger floods and landslides. –

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Acor Arceo

Acor Arceo is the head of copy and editorial standards at Rappler. Trained in both online and TV newsrooms, Acor ensures consistency in editorial standards across all sections and also supervises Rappler’s coverage of disasters.