Philippines: Agaton Downgraded to LPA, but Still a Threat

Tropical Depression Agaton, known elsewhere as Ling-ling, was downgraded on Monday to a Low Pressure Area (LPA) as it weakened, but the Philipppine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) expects rain over the eastern Philippines to continue for three more days.

The weather disturbance, the first one in the Philippines area of responsibility for 2014, has been unable to move out of the vicinity because it is trapped between two high pressure areas caused by the northeast monsoon.

Agaton floods Philippines
Floods brought by Tropical Cyclone (Ling Ling) Agaton, Philippines. Photo: @ DDNewsLive

Instead it has been moving slowly and changing direction regularly, remaining unpredictable whilst still causing steady rainfall over the adjacent regions of Mindanoa, Davao and Caraga, affecting over 800,000 people, with 42 deaths and 203,022 people displaced to 565 evacuation centres.

The system, in the country’s area of responsibility for nearly two weeks, was observed 465km east of Davao City at midday on Tuesday 21 January 2014.

PAGASA forecaster Manny Mendoza is reported as stating that, although the system has weakened, as long as it stays over the ocean it may pick up strength again and once more become a tropical depression or cyclone. As a result, PAGASA has maintained flood warnings for Eastern Visayas, Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Compostella Valley and Davao Oriental, while light to moderate rains and thunderstorms are expected in the rest of Visayas and Mindanao.

“Residents are advised to take all the necessary precautionary measures,” PAGASA said in a customary advisory.

In Surigao del Norte, heavy rains and floods sent residents of the towns of Gigaquit, Tubod and Mainit fleeing to evacuation centres when the waters of Lake Mainit began to rise on Saturday.

Cmdr. Armand Balilo, spokesman for the Philippine Coast Guard, said that the bad weather had forced the suspension of sea travel, stranding up to 7,325 travelers as of Sunday, and that 120 sea-going vessels were marooned in seven ports in Visayas and Bicol.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) estimated damage to infrastructure and crops at P367m (US$8.4m) so far.

Sources: Inquirer