(UPDATE) SUPER Typhoon “Henry” weakened slightly as it approached the northern tip of Luzon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said on Thursday.
Signal No. 1 was up over Batanes and northeastern portion of Babuyan Islands as Henry continued a south-southwest track in the Philippine Sea northeast of Batanes, Pagasa forecaster Raymond Ordinario said.
By early Friday morning, the typhoon could become almost stationary before eventually accelerating northward by Saturday.
Henry could exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Saturday night or Sunday morning, Ordinario said.
On Thursday afternoon, the typhoon was located 400km east-northeast of Itbayat, Batanes, moving in a south-southwest direction at 15 kilometers per hour.
It had maximum sustained winds of 185kph near the center and gustiness of up to 230kph.
Batanes and Babuyan Islands will experience moderate to heavy rains until Friday.
Pagasa said Henry will enhance the southwest monsoon or habagat and could bring rains over western Luzon beginning Friday.
Ordinario said a low-pressure area, which was formerly Tropical Depression “Gardo,” had almost dissipated.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Thursday its disaster response teams in Northern Luzon are ready for rescue missions in the wake of the super typhoon.
PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said the teams are deployed in the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions and parts of Cordillera.
Government relief resources were also prepositioned near evacuation centers in areas threatened by Henry.
At PNP national headquarters, the Disaster Incident Management Task Group (DIMTG) has been activated as part of PNP’s disaster preparedness and response management.
Azurin said the DIMTG has alerted PNP disaster response-capable units such as Special Action Force, Maritime Group, Highway Patrol Group, and Police Community Affairs and Development Group.
At the same time, Regional Mobile Force Battalions and Provincial and City Mobile Force Co. were instructed to coordinate closely with local disaster response units for the possible enforcement of forced evacuation in areas threatened by storm surges, floodings and landslides.
Regional, provincial and city/municipal PNP Units in affected areas were directed to keep all national highways and major roads clear of obstructions and debris to allow unhampered passage of troops, rescue units, emergency vehicles and relief supplies, Azurin said.
Elsewhere in Luzon, Police Regional Offices in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Metro Manila were also alerted for possible disaster response operations in perennial geo-hazard areas in anticipation of torrential rains induced by Henry.
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Author: Arlie O. Calalo,Francis Earl Cueto