'Helen' now a storm; Signal no. 1 in 7 Luzon areas

Posted at 08/13/2012 11:05 AM | Updated as of 08/13/2012 5:31 PM
MTSAT ENHANCED-IR Satellite Image 1:32 p.m., 13 August 2012.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2) - The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has raised storm warning signal number 1 over seven areas in extreme northern Luzon due to tropical storm "Helen."

In a press conference, PAGASA Administrator Nathaniel Servando said “Helen” has intensified into a tropical storm. He said it may still become a typhoon as it continues to gain strength from surrounding waters.

The state weather bureau said the following are now under Public Storm Signal No. 1:

Isabela 

Kalinga 

Apayao 

Cagayan 

Babuyan Group of Islands 

Calayan Group of Islands 

Batanes Group of Islands

Tropical storm “Helen” is moving 13 kilometers per hours towards Northern Luzon. It was last spotted 550 kilometers East Northeast of Casiguran, Aurora and is packing maximum sustained winds of 65 kph near the center.

Servando said Metro Manila, including several provinces such as Camarines, Quezon, Pampanga and Zambales, will experience later today and tonight moderate to heavy rains.

He said that since the country is still in the monsoon season, some parts of the country may again experience the same incidents as last week. Nonstop monsoon rains left more than 80 percent of Metro Manila flooded last week, forcing millions out of their homes.

“Kahit moderate to heavy [rains], kumpara sa torrential rains last week, saturated na ang kalupaan,” he said. As such, Metro Manila and those affected last week could again experience flashfloods.

Science Secretary Mario Montejo noted that thunderstorms have also been detected in the last few hours.

Already, the Angat, Ipo, Ambuklao-Binga and San Roque dams have opened gates.

Servando said that if “Helen” does not change route, it will exit the Philippines' area of responsibility by Thursday.