Ompong’s entry highlights need for bill on anti-power lines disturbance



By Rose de la Cruz


With the entry of super typhoon “Ompong” (international name Mangkhut) in the country, power lines will surely be among the first to be downed by the howler that carries big volumes of rain. Thus, the urgency of passing the anti-power lines disturbance bill (HB 6276) to ensure as little disruption in power lines as possible.


Rep. Carlos Roman Uybarreta, 1st Consumer Alliance for Rural Energy Inc. partylist and vice chair of the committee on energy in the House, said typhoon Ompong approaching Luzon with powerful winds exceeding 200 kph pose a threat to power lines.  Power blackouts loom large.


I hope Congress will take this new typhoon as another reminder to expedite the Anti Power Lines Disturbance bill, he said.


With HB 6276, the electric cooperatives and the distribution and transmission utilities would be empowered to clear all potential hazards to power lines and prevent blackouts.


Prevention is better than cure and we also get our technical crew out of harm's way.


He said the bill will spare electric coop customers the power outages which usually follow when storms topple tall trees that grow near or under power lines.


The Anti-Power Lines Disturbance bill of the House has a provision reserving only to the Court of Appeals the power to issue injunctions or temporary restraining orders against efforts to clear right-of-way areas of hazards to power lines.


HB 6276 also requires applicants for building permits to secure first the permission of electric cooperatives before they build any structures at or near the right-of-way zone at power lines and facilities.


NASA on Ompong


The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration described Ompong as containing “storms within a superstorm.”


NASA has been tracking Typhoon Ompong which it found to have powerful storms surrounding the eye of the tropical cyclone days before its landfall over northern Luzon.


On September 13, the MODIS instrument on the Aqua satellite looked at Ompong in infrared as it was approaching the Philippines, reported ABS-CBN citing NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Rob Gutro’s blog post.


The satellite's instrument "found coldest cloud top temperatures around the eye, as cold as or colder than minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (F)/minus 112 degrees Celsius (C). Surrounding the eye were thick rings of powerful storms with cloud tops as cold as or colder than minus 70F (minus 56.6C)," he added.


He cited NASA research, which said that cloud top temperatures as cold as or colder than the 70F/56.6C threshold have the capability to generate heavy rainfall, which forewarn of torrential rains that Ompong may bring to Luzon. 


Another satellite, the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP, passed directly over Ompong from space two days earlier and stared down its eye.


"Visible imagery on Sept. 12 at 11:44 p.m. EDT (Sept. 12 at 0354 UTC from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite showed that Mangkhut had a clear eye that enabled the satellite to see through it all the way to the surface of the Northwestern Pacific Ocean," Gutro said.


"Mangkhut was surrounded by a thick ring of powerful, rotating thunderstorms," he added.


Gutro mentioned a report by the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center showing that strong, compact feeder bands of thunderstorms were spiraling tightly into the typhoon's eye.


JTWC considers Ompong as a super typhoon and equal to a Category 5 hurricane in the western hemisphere.


In its latest analysis, the Hawaii-based joint U.S. Navy-Air Force command said the typhoon is currently packing 278kph sustained winds and gusts reaching 333 kph in 1-minute readings.


It warned that Ompong may continue to strengthen Friday, reaching peak intensity of 287 kph winds and 352 kph gusts before landfall. 


The typhoon is expected to make landfall in Cagayan-Isabela area on Saturday, September 15, according to Philippine state weather bureau PAGASA.


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