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‘Chedeng’ seen as welcome development in El Niño-hit areas

While Tropical Depression “Chedeng” is expected to make landfall in southernmost Mindanao on Tuesday, the weather disturbance seems to be taken as a welcome development for the El Niño-hit region.

Despite this, the weather bureau still urged precaution as tropical cyclones during El Niño events may be fewer but tend to bring stronger rains.

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Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on Monday ordered suspension of classes in all levels in public and private schools.

Classes up to senior high school in at least eight of the 11 towns were also canceled in Compostela Valley.

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Davao landfall

In its 5 p.m. weather update on Monday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Chedeng was expected to make landfall in the southeastern coast of Davao Oriental or the eastern coast of Davao Occidental on Tuesday morning.

It is likely to weaken into a low pressure area while crossing Mindanao.

Pagasa warned of moderate to heavy rains on Tuesday in most parts of Mindanao, especially portions of the Davao, Soccsksargen and Bangsamoro regions, and Zamboanga Peninsula.

As of 4 p.m. on Monday, Chedeng was offshore east-southeast of Davao City, packing maximum sustained winds of 45 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 60 kph, prompting the declaration of storm signal No. 1 in 11 areas in Mindanao.

At a press conference, Pagasa said Chedeng’s arrival was “welcome” because the Mindanao area, which the tropical depression would hit, had been experiencing way below normal rainfall in recent months, or a 60-percent reduction in average rainfall, causing some areas to suffer from either drought or dry spell.

Drought has hit Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Maguindanao and Sulu, said Flaviana Hilario, Pagasa deputy administrator for research and development.

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Even so, these areas still need to be careful.

“It may be just a weak tropical depression but in our experience, [tropical cyclones] bring a lot of rains that could cause floods or landslides,” said Landrico Dalida Jr., Pagasa deputy administrator for operations and services.

“Often, when we have El Niño, because the Pacific is heated, evaporation is stronger, so the storms’ intensities are stronger,” Dalida said.

In Proclamation No. 01 series of 2019, Mayor Duterte on Monday suspended all classes in Davao City.

She said classes were suspended to avert any untoward incidents and to protect young people and schoolchildren against the inconvenience that heavy rains would bring.

The provincial government of Compostela Valley on Monday ordered the suspension of small-scale mining operations in gold-rich areas in the province amid preparations for the onslaught of Chedeng.

Eugene Alaba, provincial environment and natural resources officer, said Gov. Jayvee Tyron Uy had ordered mayors in towns with gold mining sites to implement forced evacuations from areas at risk of landslides.

Towns with mining sites include Monkayo, Compostela, New Bataan, Maragusan, Nabunturan, Maco, Mabini and Pantukan.

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