By Ellalyn De Vera Ruiz
Typhoon “Gardo” (international name “Maria”) has entered the country’s area of responsibility early Monday and will continue to enhance the southwest monsoon or habagat that is currently affecting Mimaropa and Western Visayas.
Before Monday evening, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration estimated the location of Gardo at 1,020 kilometers east-northeast of Basco, Batanes. It has slightly weakened with maximum sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 225 kph.
It is moving west-northwest at 30 kph and still less likely to hit the country.
PAGASA Weather Division chief Esperanza Cayanan said monsoon rains will prevail over Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan, Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Guimaras and Iloilo, while occasional rains will affect Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, Zambales, Bataan, Aurora, Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, and Masbate until Tuesday.
She explained that a new low pressure area (LPA) over the West Philippine Sea or near Vietnam is pulling most of the southwesterly winds, preventing rains from reaching western Luzon. In earlier forecasts, the southwest monsoon enhanced by Gardo was supposed to dump rains over most of Luzon.
As Gardo moves north of Taiwan en route to China, Cayanan said monsoon rains may affect most of Luzon, especially over the western section, beginning Wednesday. This is because both Gardo and LPA will enhance the southwest monsoon that will pull the moisture inland.
Residents of these areas, especially those living in low-lying and mountainous areas, should take appropriate actions against possible flooding and landslides resulting from heavy rains.
Likewise, sea travel is risky over the northern and eastern seaboards of Northern Luzon.
PAGASA appealed to the public to monitor official weather updates issued by the weather bureau to prevent the spread of fake news in social media sites.
As early as Sunday, the weather has forced the cancellation of classes in several areas in Luzon, including Metro Manila.
Cayanan pointed out that Gardo is still not a super typhoon. PAGASA categorizes a cyclone with more than 220 kph maximum winds as a super typhoon.
She explained that the United States-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center, which already categorized Gardo as a super typhoon, has a different basis in measuring the cyclone’s winds. JTWC uses a one-minute average in wind, while PAGASA uses a 10-minute average, “causing the discrepancy,” Cayanan said.
Likewise, JTWC caters to the military, she said.
According to senior weather specialist Robert Sawi, monsoon or habagat rains generally occur early morning until about 11 a.m., followed by a lull, then re-occur around 3 p.m. until early evenig.
In the next few days, monsoon rains may prevail over Luzon, once Gardo moves north of Taiwan, he added.
It will be rainy by Wednesday until the weekend, he said.