..Tropical storm Helen (international codename Kai-Tak) maintains its strength as it continues to move toward Northern Luzon, prompting the weather bureau to place more areas under storm warning signal number two Tuesday morning.
In its 5 a.m. update, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) raised storm warning signal number two in the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Kalingao and Apayao, including the Calayan, Babuyan and Batanes groups of islands.
It has also maintained storm warning signal number one in Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, Benguet, Mountain Province, Ilocos Sur, Abra and Ilocos Norte.
Helen, which has a maximum sustained winds of 75 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 90 kph, was estimated at 230 kilometers east norhteast of Casiguran, Aurora 10 a.m. Tuesday, Pagasa said.
The cyclone is expected to move west northwest at 13 kph.
Helen is expected to be at 50 kilometers north northeast of Tuguegarao City by Wednesday morning and at 270 kilometers west southwest of Basco, Batanes by Thursday morning, Pagasa said.
By Friday morning, it is expected to be at 550 kilometers northwest of Basco.
"Residents living in low lying and mountainous areas under public storm warning signal number two and one are alerted against possible flash floods and landslides," Pagasa said.
"Likewise, those living in coastal areas under public storm warning number two are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by this tropical cyclone," it added.
Pagasa also advised fishing boats and other small seacrafts not to venture out into the seaboards of Central and Southern Luzon and Visayas.
"Tropical Storm Helen is expected to enhance the Southwest Monsoon that will bring rains over Luzon and Visayas especially over the western section," the weather bureau said
It estimated heavy to intense rainfall within the 500-kilometer diameter of the Tropical Storm.
Pagasa said intermittent light to moderate rains are affecting Central and Southern Luzon as of Tuesday morning, as it forecast frequent moderate to heavy rains later in the day over Metro Manila and the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Quezon, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Mindoro, Bataan, Zambales, Pangasinan and Tarlac.
Meanwhile, the water level in major dams remain critical due to downpour from Helen as well as the southwest monsoon rains last week.
Authorities have opened gates in the following dams as of 8 a.m. Tuesday:
-Angat dam, three gates at 3 meters each, releasing water at 440 cubic meters per second (cms)
-Ipo dam, four gates at 3.3 meters each, 474 cms;
-Ambuklao dam, two gates at 1.5 meters each, 248 cms;
-Binga dam, three gates at 2.5 meters each, 248 cms;
-San Roque dam, one gate at 0.5 meter, 330 cms;
-Magat dam, two gates at 3 meters each, 702 cms.