Tropical Storm Gorio skirts most of Bicol, to hit Metro Manila today

MANILA, Philippines (June 30, 2013 1:30 AM) - Tropical Storm Gorio (international codename Rumbia) made its first landfall in Hernani, Eastern Samar yesterday and made a second one very near Donsol, Sorsogon early last night before turning more Westerly, sparing mainland Bicol.

It is now traversing Ragay Gulf moving Northwest toward the Bondoc Peninsula in Southern Quezon province and as projected by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is expected to hit Metro Manila early morning today (Sunday). Gorio also threatens 18 other areas in Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon.

PAGASA forecaster Ricky Fabrigas warned residents in Metro Manila to stay indoors.

He said Gorio might pass directly over Metro Manila or its vicinity and this would trigger “stormy weather” with low-lying areas under threat of flashfloods and landslides.

The storm packed maximum winds of 65 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph.

As of 7 p.m. last night, PAGASA said Gorio was estimated at 60 kilometers southeast of Legazpi City, Albay, moving northwest at a speed of 24 kph.

Storm signals 1 and 2 have been hoisted over most of these areas, including provinces in Northern Luzon.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, PAGASA placed Metro Manila under storm signal no. 2, as well as the provinces of Masbate with Ticao and Burias islands, Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Marinduque, Quezon (including Polilio Island), Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Batangas, Laguna, Cavite and Bataan.

Storm signal no. 1 was hoisted over Catanduanes, Romblon, the Mindoro provinces (including Lubang Island), La Union, Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and Aurora.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) warned these areas of possible flashfloods and landslides since Gorio has a 300-kilometer range that is expected to dump moderate to heavy rainfall.

The estimated volume of rainfall is between 5 and 15 millimeters per hour, which is classified as moderate to heavy, within the 300-kilometer diameter of the storm.

Initial reports said heavy rains dumped by Gorio led to a landslide that blocked a highway in Barangay San Pablo, Naval, Biliran while flooding hit the road in Barangay Capokpok, Tabango in Leyte.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or injuries.

Malacañang, on the other hand, said it has readied P6.9 million worth of emergency relief resources.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government started its assessment of the preparedness of these areas with the entry of the new storm.

The storm has left a total of 6,572 passengers stranded in various roll-on, roll-off ports in the Caraga region, Eastern and Western Visayas, Bicol region, and Southern Tagalog.

Most of the stranded were in the ports of Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Masbate, Camarines Sur in the Bicol region; Cebu, Maasin (Leyte), Catbalogan (Samar) in Eastern Visayas; and Surigao and Butuaan in the Caraga region.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) added the number of stranded passengers went up to over 10,000 people.

The PCG said a Vietnamese ship anchored in Legazpi, Albay, which has been placed under the custody of the Bureau of Customs on suspicions of rice smuggling, has drifted and ran aground during the storm.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or injuries but residents were warned not to go near the ship.

A total of 21 flights have also been cancelled, most going to and from the Bicol and Visayas regions.

Power was also cut off for several hours in some areas in Northern and Eastern Samar after the Palanas Cara-Catarman 69-kVlLine of the Northern Samar Electric Cooperative tripped at 2:19 a.m. yesterday. Power was restored before 7 a.m. yesterday.

The Catarman-Bobolosan 69-kV line, which services portions of the Northern Samar Electric Cooperative, also tripped off during heavy rains. Power supply has been restored in some areas, with repairs now being done.

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said the power loss was caused by affected transmission facilities of the company or distribution facilities of local utilities or electric cooperatives.

Gorio also caused the Wright-Taft-Borongon-MacArthur 69-kV line of the Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative Inc. to trip at 7:30 a.m. yesterday with maintenance crew still conducting line inspections to restore power.

With the storm directly threatening Metro Manila, the NDRRMC has raised its alert status to blue since Friday, placing all its rescue and disaster teams on standby. (