By: Weatherguy Adonis
Severe Tropical Storm “21W/GAEMI” Becomes Deadly; Boracay Island Drowning Cases Up, Six Dead, 33 Plucked To Safety
Iloilo City, Philippines, 04 October 2012, (1900Z)–The last 24 hours went critical if you ask about how the weather have gone from bad to worse with such speed. Blame it the the weather others say! yes, we all point our fingers into the Heavens but come to think of it when we Filipinos, one of the few races in all of the face of the Earth as being frequented with an insurmountable concoction of natural disasters and human tragedies as well. A lot of us care less. I always pull the remaining gram of strength in every day I stumble on hard facts of life that living is like dying without keeping your dear ones closer to your chest. That such life isn’t much sweeter when you share what you hold dearly safe and secure, impeccably strong and vibrant, assured that every day is being lived like your last! Today are one of those days that we all fumbled with a great need of better understanding as a barrage of howling winds and sweeping rains toss a lot of inconvenience and mounting concerns of what tomorrow brings. The Philippines yet again awakens to a test, wherein innocent lives were lost to a storm, indirect effects of it I should conservatively say all where we as always have been predominantly discussing here at Westernpacificweather.com eversince we took off this year giving much emphasis on human safety and security when it comes to storms and strong Typhoons, its effects and the lurking dangers or of being ignorant that such raw forces of nature could spell disastrous once confronted unprepared to respond to it.
I have a suggestion to make so that once and for all we join in this call for more conclusive measures that could save a lot more lives than before:
“We need to do drum up readings, listen to what experts say, try to understand what we have been drawing up to spur vigilance to the nth power to the people who care for their loved ones and their fellowmen, and those who do the decisions, where Heaven and Earth are filled with uncertainty, moving ever forward where it only requires an ounce of patience in times of dire circumstance.”
It is just an utterly sad day for the nation, not because of the imposition of the deafening call for the stoppage of the Philippine “Anti-cybercrime Law,” tragedy struck once more without warning.
Severe Tropical Storm “21W/GAEMI”
As of 1714Z (0114AM-PHL), Severe Tropical Storm “21W/GAEMI,” locally tagged as “MARCE” was spotted at 15.0N-117.7E or 354 km West-northwest of Manila, churning off the disputed Panatag Shoal otherwise known as “Scarborough Shoal” just off the West Philippine Sea. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) pegged the system to remain “Quasi-stationary” within the next 12-24 hrs under the steering influence of a developing Ridge of High along Southern China within the next few days which could draw the storm into a West-southwest to a Westerly trajectory towards the Eastern seaboards of Viet Nam sometime on the 7th of October 2012.
“MARCE” is packing winds of up to 100 km/hr, gusting near 120 km/hr and forecast to gain more intensity within the nest 6-12 hrs, with central pressure reading of 982 hPa. The system is currently drawing more precipitation to already flooded areas in Pampanga, Bataan, Bulacan and mostly in the the National Capital Region (NCR), to include Manila and neighboring cities where class suspensions have been enforced in the light of flooding rains for the past 36 hrs now.
Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) raised its Public Storm Warning Signal No. 1 along Zambales and Bataan, wherein winds not exceeding 30-60 km/hr can be felt within the next 36 hrs in the advance of the storm. Coastal waters are rough for sea navigation. Sea going vessels weighing not more than 2 gross tonnage are being forced to stay in port. Possible flash floods and landslides are also being reiterated by the agency and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
The resurgence of the relatively persistent Southwest Monsoon a.k.a “Habagat” have been made culprit of the massive rains reaching to 300 mm for the last 24 hrs across much of Northern Palawan, and Southern Tagalog Region. Here in Iloilo City, we already had two (2) occasions of power outages lasting near an hour in between all thanks to strong winds and torrential rains. There had been reports of flooding situation in Bacolod City too.
Tragedy Struck In Paradise
Thirty (30) Taiwanese nationals on a boat trip on board a motorized banca Kevin-2 left port at around 0600Z (0200PM-PHL) and went into Island hopping from Boracay Island en route to Crocodile Island when an intense locally spawned “Squall” of torrential rains and strong winds overturned their vessel, drowning three (3) of the passengers, two (2) males ages between 71 and 49, and a two (2) year-old female child.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) in the Island says the area was reportedly near Sitio Tambisa-an in Barangay Manoc-Manoc, Boracay and Crocodile Islands. Witnesses says they saw the boat from land at about hundred meters when stormy seas and violent winds buffeted the boat and turned it upside down.
An immediate rescue operation was launched and wherein local officials coordinated the joint efforts, mostly by the locals in the area as the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) continues to conduct an investigation as to why the sea mishap occurred and was so devastating this time despite PAGASA raised no Public Storm Warning Signals re Severe Tropical Storm “21W/GAEMI,” locally tagged as “MARCE,” but they have issued ample warnings to that effect a day earlier since the incident. The survivors were sent to a nearby Baptist Hospital in Malay town in mainland Aklan province. The boat that was overwhelmed by the raging seas was carrying a total of thirty-six (36) passengers and crew. Six (6) crew were Filipino locals in the Island.
Morning Rip Tides Kills Two
In an earlier and a separate incident on Boracay Island, a 20-year old Arellano University student reported as Grino Marion Socito drowned with his rescuer, a newly wed Filipino tourist in the person on Dobbie Pedrosa was unfortunately lost in the reportedly “Rip current,” incident. Among the five (5) victims, three (3) friends of Socito were successfully plucked from the raging seas by locals in a supposed to be perfectly breezy and exciting morning trek in the Island paradise. Socito’s companions are now safe and recuperating in a hospital at Boracay Island namely Matthew Yambao, Francis Harina and Modesto Apostol, Jr. The four (4) youths were on a field trip when they decided to take a morning dip at around 0030Z (0830AM-PHL). They were scheduled to return to Manila soonest when they met the accident which almost drowned them all. Socito and his friends were reportedly to have arrived at Station 2 on 30 September 2012 and stayed at the La Carmela de Boracay Resort in Barangay Balabag, Boracay Island.
Understanding “Rip Currents”
A gripping underwater force dubbed as “Rip currents,” are unforseen dangers that lurk beneath the waves, most of drowning are interconnected with such phenomenon, wherein unsuspecting victims quite often are caught unprepared of such dangers. Rip currents are like sudden underwater river flood which could pull its victims swiftly towards the open sea. With such turbulence and strong seemingly “Invincible and unstoppable” force of the water, one unsuspecting individual could be drawn far from the safety of the coast with such terrifying speeds where only a survivor of such raw power of nature could well understand and escape with his or her life and lived to tell the tale.
A brewing Storm well within the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) is just a piece of the puzzle in this horrid incident which if all would be more than contentious to stay clear from the coast during strong swells and breezy conditions, lives could have been laid to waste. Rip currents are commonly occurring in almost all corners of the globe where quite often, during stormy seas it provides adequate ripe conditions for a disaster considering long periods of onshore wind flow could draw up stronger than normal currents. These conditions also create larger waves, which sometimes draw more people into the water–a very dangerous and precarious situation where 80% of the drowning cases annually are not caused by shark attacks, but the seemingly enticing beauty of wave action and crystal clear blue waters in a nice cozy beach such as Boracay Island. It could happen anywhere but there which are quite unfortunate.
A Strong Reminder:
Citing the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA): “trying to swim parallel to the shore and out of the current. Once you’ve gotten out of the current, you can begin swimming back to shore.
However, if it is too difficult to swim sideways out of the current, try floating or treading water and let nature do its thing. You’ll wash out of the current at some point and can then make your way back to shore.”
Bad Weather Spells Air Travel Chaos
Local authorities were telling the tourists and locals in the Island territory to be on a lookout for strong tidal surges and bad weather associated with the resurgence of the Southwest Monsoon a.k.a “Habagat.” PAGASA however issued a Gale Warning since yesterday morning in relation to the prevalence of a brewing Typhoon off the West Philippine Sea where forecasters in the agency says the system should continue to enhance Habagat within the next few days especially along the Western seaboards of the country.
Additionally, the end of woes in sea and air travel just got even worse as local carriers such as Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) cancelled its seven (7) domestic flights relative to the worsening weather situation across the archipelago, thanks to the Severe Tropical Storm affecting robust air traffic in the country. The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said the following flights have been cancelled, as of 0700Z (3PM-PHL).:
- 5J 196 Manila – Cauayan
- 5J 197 Cauayan – Manila
- 5J 901 Manila – Caticlan
- 5J 902 Caticlan – Manila
- 5J 900 Caticlan – Manila
- 5J 911 Manila – Caticlan
- 5J 912 Caticlan – Manila
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This has been your Weatherguy hailing from the Philippines. Mabuhay and God bless my people! To God Almighty be the Glory! Stay safe, Philippines!
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Credits: JTWC, JMA, NRL Mry, NASA, NOAA, NDRRMC, Reuters, PDInquirer and ABS-CBN.