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Masbate braces for powerhouse typhoon: ‘Betty isn’t the kind of threat we leave to chance’

MASBATE CITY, Masbate (PIA) – Masbate, which was not in the forecast track of the super typhoon internationally named Mawar, was preparing for the impact of the cyclone.

For emergency managers of this city, it was “preposterous” to drop their guard just because of the forecast that the powerhouse typhoon was veering far away from the Bicol region.

“With El Niño phenomenon warming the surface of the Pacific Ocean, our weather is getting erratic, the uncertainty is higher, and anything can happen,” Isaias Bigol Jr., disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) officer for Masbate City, explained when he convened a pre-disaster assessment meeting of the DRRM Council last Friday.

“Super Typhoon Betty might defy the science of weather forecasting, it can change its track and barrel toward our region,” he added.

Bigol continued: “A powerful typhoon is not the kind of threat (Masbate) Mayor (Socrates) Tuason wants to leave to chance, so he directed us to stand by to ensure that there will be enough manpower in case of an emergency.”

Masbate City Emergency Response Chief Isaias F. Bigol Jr. marshals a pre-disaster assessment meeting of disaster council ahead of Super Typhoon Betty's entry into the Philippines' weather monitoring area.
Masbate city government's transportation assets are placed on standby.

Early in the morning of Saturday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) reported that Mawar has entered the Philippine weather monitoring area.  

The state weather bureau said Betty was packing maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center with gustiness of up to 240 kph “while moving west-northwestward.”

Bigol said that although Pagasa predicted that Betty likely will not directly affect the country’s land mass, flash floods and landslides were expected to occur across the country due to southwesterly windflow and the through of the super typhoon.

“That’s why we really have to prepare our emergency responders and the communities for potential flooding and landslides due to possible heavy rains that maybe triggered by those weather systems as well as during severe thunderstorms,” Bigol said.

Disaster response protocols were activated in flood-prone coastal communities and landslide-susceptible upland villages.

Equipment for emergency telecommunications and transportation assets were placed on standby, Bigol said.

Village officials were to strictly prohibit sailing of small boats, fishing, and river cruising ahead of the weather systems’ projected rains and gusty winds and rough seas, he added.

Betty is the second tropical cyclone to enter the country this year, and the first super typhoon.

The archipelago expects up to 10 to enter its weather monitoring area this year due to El Niño, a weather phenomenon characterized by below-normal rainfall that can lead to dry spells and drought in the Philippines.  (PIA5/Masbate)

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Ernesto Delgado

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Region 5

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