Showers to dampen typhoon recovery efforts in the Philippines as death toll climbs to 28
The death toll continues to climb in the central Philippines after a typhoon ruined Christmas celebrations, displaced thousands of residents and devastated lives and property. Forecasters say steady showers may only make recovery efforts harder.
Phanfone, known locally in the Philippines as Ursula, made landfall in the Eastern Samar province on Christmas Eve with the equivalent strength of a Category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic or East Pacific basins. Through Christmas Day, Phanfone moved across the country bringing damaging winds and flooding rainfall.
On Wednesday evening, the storm strengthened to the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin despite interaction with the islands of the Philippines.
The typhoon left at least 28 dead across the country, with many of the fatalities due to drowning, fallen trees and electrocution, according to The Associated Press (AP). Twelve others remain missing.
“Isolated showers will move from east to west across the Philippines through the weekend with areas on the eastern shores of the islands favored to get the most rain,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Houk said. “Most places that were hit hard by the typhoon and do pick up some additional rainfall will receive less than 6.4 mm (0.25 of an inch).”
While this amount of rain may seem inconsequential following Phanfone’s deluge, any additional rainfall can slow down recovery efforts and make it even more difficult for those who are left without proper shelter.
“Outside of any showers, most of the time will be dry at any one location with intervals of sunshine allowing temperatures to rise into the upper 20s to near 30 C (middle 80s F),” Houk said.
San Jose recorded 217 mm (8.54 inches) of rain in a mere 24 hours from the typhoon, and Roxas, Tacloban and Maasin all received over 140 mm (5.5 inches) of rain.
The heavy rainfall caused rivers to swell and flood neighboring lands. Four members of the same family are among the 12 missing after a river inundated their shanty, according to the AP.
An unknown number of people living near the coast or in areas prone to flooding and mudslides were encouraged to evacuate on Tuesday, but many were reluctant to leave their homes ahead of Christmas, according to the South China Morning Post.
The coastal town of Batad in Iloilo province was described as a “ghost town” on Christmas Day as power outages, landslides and damage ensued in the typhoon’s fury.
“You can’t see anybody because there was a total blackout; you can’t hear anything. The town looked like a ghost town,” Cindy Ferrer of the regional Office of the Civil Defense told the AP.
Over 25,000 people were left stranded in sea ports on Christmas Eve after the coast guard shut down ferry and cargo ship operations. Others were left helpless at airports over the holiday as dozens of flights were canceled.
Thousands of residents were forced to spend the Christmas holiday sheltering in gymnasiums and schools.
The typhoon’s strong winds caused a partial ceiling collapse at Kalibo International Airport.
Phanfone took a similar path to Super Typhoon Haiyan, which is the country’s deadliest cyclone on record.
After leaving behind a trail of destruction in the Philippines, Phanfone weakened to a tropical storm over the South China Sea. Further weakening will cause Phanfone to dissipate by Sunday.
However, some of Phanfone’s moisture is expected to get pulled northward into southeastern China this weekend, leading to a period of heavy rainfall and localized flooding.
No additional tropical threats are on the horizon in the West Pacific into the first days of 2020.
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