A low pressure area in the Philippine Sea has developed into a tropical depression on Monday, October 19, and is forecast to strengthen further as it tracks towards Luzon Island. The storm system, which has been named Pepito by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Administration (PAGASA), was located 475 km (295 mi) east of Virac (Catanduanes province; Bicol region) at 10:00 (local time) on Monday and is moving westwards at 30 kph (19 mph) with maximum sustained winds of 45 kph (28 mph). The storm is currently forecast to make landfall over the eastern coast of north-central Luzon late Tuesday, October 20, or early Wednesday, October 21, by which time it is expected to have intensified into a tropical storm. From Monday, moderate rainfall with heavy spells is expected to affect Luzon and other central and eastern areas of the Philippines and will continue as the storm passes. A Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal no.1 has been issued for the eastern portion of Isabela province and the northern portion of Aurora province. Gale warnings are in place for many eastern coastal areas and rough seas are expected over the next 24 hours.
Strong winds and heavy rainfall could result in flooding, landslides, and disruptions to transport, businesses, and utilities as the storm system passes, particularly over northern and central Luzon.
Tropical depressions, storms, and typhoons typically hit Eastern Visayas as well as Southern, Central, and Northern Luzon during the typhoon season between June and November. However, a number of storm systems in the past years have also affected Central and Western Visayas, as well as eastern, northern, central, and western Mindanao, and have reached the country outside the typhoon season. Local meteorologists attribute these changes to climate change. In general, approximately 19 storms and typhoons enter the country's area of responsibility every year, and PAGASA say that at least six weather systems make a direct landfall.
These storm systems have the potential to unleash heavy downpours and powerful winds, as well as trigger a major storm surge that pose considerable hazards to human life and infrastructure. Despite a credible risk, the Philippines has inadequate preparedness and crisis response that increases the impact of storm systems on human communities, strategic infrastructure as well as on travel and service delivery.
Those in affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, anticipate transportation disruptions, avoid areas directly affected by flooding, confirm road conditions before setting out, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, including evacuation orders. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters.
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