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'Falcon' rains fill four Luzon dams to spilling levels — govt

Tropical depression “Falcon," in combination with the southwest monsoon, continued to dump heavy rain on much of Luzon, flooding parts of Metro Manila and some towns of Rizal, and causing at least four dams to reach spilling levels. For thousands of people who fled their homes, it brought back memories of the 2009 “Ondoy" floods. State weather forecasters said flooding in the capital peaked Thursday night when 95 millimeters (mm) of rain fell from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. But the “Falcon"-enhanced monsoon rains eased down to 10 mm to 20 mm per hour by Friday evening, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in GMA News’ State of the Nation newscast.
For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV PAGASA and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said four dams have been releasing water through spill gates since Thursday. Dam officials said warnings were issued to the towns through which the excess water will flow. Ipo Dam was the first to open its spill gates Thursday evening, followed by Binga and Ambuklao at noontime Friday, and then La Mesa by early Friday afternoon. Disaster response officials said local governments and residents in flood-prone areas were better prepared for “Falcon" than they were for “Ondoy." Local authorities confirmed that evacuees were more cooperative now than they were two years ago, giving credit to preparedness programs implemented since after the Ondoy floods.
For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV Climate expert raises alarm But an Ateneo-based climate scientist has warned that a storm can be weaker than Ondoy and still be as harsh. Dr. Gemma Narisma of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Manila observatory said in an email message to GMA News Online that “the way we are developing, with continuing siltation, building [houses] in flood plains, encroaching on easement, and garbage problems… it might not take another ‘Ondoy’ rainfall to have the disastrous flooding that we had in 2009!" “The thresholds are changing," Narisma said. During the passage of “Falcon" (International code name, “Meari"), PAGASA raised the storm signal to only No. 1. “Falcon" did not make landfall and stayed out at sea where, PAGASA engineers said, it merged for a while with a nearby low pressure area (LPA), further enhancing the southwest monsoon. This year’s sixth storm is expected to leave the country by Saturday, but PAGASA said “Falcon" left behind in the East Philippine Sea the LPA it merged with earlier. PAGASA also said in its extended weather outlook that much of the western parts of the country, from Luzon down to Zamboanga will still have some rains and cloudy skies. Forecasters expected the rainy weather to dissipate. “Falcon" brought enough rain to cause widespread flooding, not just in Metro Manila but also in some towns of Rizal, Bulacan, Zambales, Pampanga and — early on — in Bicol. The NDRRMC said “Falcon" affected at least 216,397 people. Fourteen people were reported missing. Classes and offices were suspended. Storm winds also caused a tornado to wreak havoc in several barangays in the Kamuning and New Manila districts of Quezon City, uprooting trees, toppling power lines, and tearing off some roofs of houses. The storm caused several dams to reach their spilling levels. Separate reports aired over GMA News’ “24 Oras" said the La Mesa Dam in Quezon City and the Binga Dam in Benguet released water after both reached their spilling levels of 80.15 meters and 575 meters, respectively. La Mesa Dam Headworks manager Engineer Teddy Angeles said that the La Mesa Dam's overflow facility began its release after the dam reached its spilling level at 1 p.m. on Friday. According to PAGASA data, website, La Mesa's water level is currently at 80.25 meters. Excess water from the La Mesa Dam flows to the Tullahan River, north of Manila. GMA News’ Jiggy Manicad said that among the cities that may be affected, should the Tullahan River overflow, are the northern parts of Quezon City, and the Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela (Camanava) area. "Those who live along creeks or rivers will surely be affected in a way," said La Mesa Dam’s Angeles, although rainfall from “Falcon" was not as heavy as that of Ondoy’s, which ravaged large areas of Luzon less two years ago. On the other hand, PAGASA assistant weather services chief Roy Badilla said the Binga Dam was still at its "pre-release" stage. Data from the PAGASA website indicated that only one gate was releasing water from Binga Dam. Friday afternoon, PAGASA's Hydrometeorology Division head Dr. Susan Espinueva said three gates of Ipo Dam had been open since 10 p.m. Thursday after it exceeded its spilling limit of 100.87 meters. Espinueva said that as of 12 noon on Friday, the water level in Ipo Dam was at 101.20 meters, which is above its overflow limit of 100.87 meters. But as of 6 p.m. on Friday, PAGASA said that Ipo Dam's water level had subsided to 100.82 meters. PAGASA’s Badilla said they are also closely monitoring the situation of the Magat Dam in Isabela because it is "sensitive" to rains. "Medyo sensitibo po ito sa pagulan kasi napakaliit ng kanyang reservoir. As of 6 p.m. on Friday, the water level in Magat Dam was 182.96 meters. Its spilling level is 193 meters. Pagasa likewise said that the water levels of the remaining dams (Angat Dam, Ambuklao Dam, San Roque Dam, Pantabangan Dam, and Caliraya Dam) were also still below spilling level. — VS, GMA News