Tropical Storm Ursula enters PAR
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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The tropical storm with the international name Phanfone entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) at 5 am on Monday, December 23, just a couple of days before Christmas. It has been given the local name Ursula.
In a bulletin issued 8 am on Monday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Tropical Storm Ursula (Phanfone) is already 900 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur.
It is moving west northwest at 25 kilometers per hour (km/h), heading for Eastern Visayas.
At the moment, Ursula has maximum winds of 65 km/h and gustiness of up to 80 km/h. But PAGASA expects Ursula to gradually intensify into a severe tropical storm before making landfall.
It is projected to make landfall in Eastern Visayas on Tuesday afternoon or evening, December 24, Christmas Eve.
Ahead of Ursula's landfall, there are now areas under Signal No. 1:
- Eastern Samar
- Dinagat Islands
- parts of Surigao del Norte (Burgos, Sta Monica, San Isidro, San Benito, Del Carmen, Pilar, Dapa, General Luna, Socorro)
Signal No. 1 means winds of 30 km/h to 60 km/h are expected in at least 36 hours. The strong winds "may bring light damage to medium to high-risk structures," said PAGASA. (READ: Why is it now called tropical cyclone 'wind' – and not 'warning' – signals?)
Ursula is also expected to dump rain just as Filipinos are celebrating Christmas. Between Tuesday and Wednesday morning, December 25, expect the following:
Moderate to heavy rain
- Dinagat Islands
- Siargao Island
- Bucas Grande Island
- Eastern Visayas
- northern part of Cebu
- northern part of Negros Occidental
Light to moderate rain with intermittent heavy rain
- rest of Bicol
- rest of the Visayas
- rest of Surigao del Norte
PAGASA warned that the rain could trigger flash floods and landslides. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)
The state weather bureau added that moderate to rough seas will prevail over the Philippines' eastern seaboards on Monday.
Sea conditions could worsen beginning Monday night or Tuesday morning, as rough to very rough seas may be experienced in the northern and eastern seaboards of Bicol and the eastern seaboards of Eastern Visayas and Caraga. Travel will be risky, especially for those using small vessels.
Based on its latest forecast track, Ursula is expected to leave PAR on Friday, December 27.
Ursula is the Philippines' 21st tropical cyclone for 2019, exceeding the yearly average of 20. (READ: LIST: PAGASA's names for tropical cyclones in 2019)
Ursula is also the second tropical cyclone for December, after Typhoon Tisoy (Kammuri). PAGASA earlier said it was expecting one or two tropical cyclones during the month.
In December 2018, the Philippines had a deadly tropical cyclone during Christmas – Tropical Depression Usman. It left 156 people dead and 105 others injured in Eastern Visayas, Bicol, and Mimaropa, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
PAGASA declared the start of the rainy season last June 14. – Rappler.com