Batanes faces ‘Helen’ fury

MANILA — Stormy weather will further whip Batanes province on Tuesday (Sept. 27) when state forecasters expect typhoon ‘Helen’ (international name Megi) to be nearest this area.

There’s nil chance for ‘Helen’ to landfall in Batanes but this typhoon will still dump moderate to heavy rainfall there then, said weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

“We also expect Batanes to experience 120 kph winds which can already topple trees and blow off galvanized iron roofing sheets of houses there,” he said.

He urged precaution as PAGASA said in its severe weather bulletin 8 released Monday (Sept. 26) ‘Helen’ will likely be some 265 km north of Batanes’ capital Basco on Tuesday morning.

That means the area then will be within the 800-km diameter of ‘Helen’ already.

Estimated rainfall of ‘Helen’ is from moderate to heavy within such diameter, PAGASA said.

According to Aurelio, ‘Helen’ is still over water where it draws energy needed to increase strength.

“That typhoon can intensify further,” he said.

PAGASA located ‘Helen’ at some 530 km east of Batanes’ Basco as of 10 a.m. Monday.

‘Helen’ packed maximum sustained winds of 150 kph near its center and gustiness of up to 185 kph, noted PAGASA.

“The typhoon maintained its strength as it moves toward the Batanes-Taiwan area,” PAGASA said.

In its gale warning 3 also issued Monday, PAGASA warned about venturing out to seas off Northern Luzon’s northern and eastern seaboards.

PAGASA expects there 52 kph to 63 kph strong to gale-force winds enhanced by ‘Helen.’

Such winds will fan rough to very rough sea conditions with waves up to 4.5 meters high, noted PAGASA.

PAGASA alerted larger sea vessels to such waves.

“Fishing boats and other small seacraft are advised not to venture out into sea,” PAGASA also said.

Government already raised tropical cyclone warning signal 2 over Batanes.

Between 61 kph to 120 kph winds may be expected there, PAGASA said.

“Batanes is already experiencing inclement weather,” noted Aurelio.

Some damage to infrastructure and vegetation is possible in areas under signal 2, PAGASA said.

Aside from such damage, PAGASA said storm surges are also possible there.

Aurelio said signal 2 will likely remain over Batanes even if ‘Helen’ moves closer to that area.

“People there must take precaution,” he said.

Government also raised signal 1 over Cagayan province’s northern part including Babuyan Islands, expecting there 30 kph to 60 kph winds.

Waves there can reach about 4.0 meters high, PAGASA noted.

PAGASA forecast ‘Helen’ to move west-northwest at 20 kph.

The agency expects ‘Helen’ to be some 610 km northwest of Basco by Wednesday morning, already outside PAR.

‘Helen’ entered PAR this weekend after typhoon ‘Gener'(international name Malakas) and near-super typhoon ‘Ferdie’ (international name Meranti) wrecked havoc in Batanes and other Northern Luzon areas.