By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
Tropical depression “Usman” may no longer intensify into a tropical storm but it continues to move erratically over the Philippine Sea before its expected landfall on Eastern Samar between Friday night and Saturday morning, the state weather bureau said.
In the latest severe weather bulletin of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) issued at 5 p.m. Friday, the center of Usman was located at 285 kilometers east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
The tropical depression maintains a system size of 300 kilometers in diameter, and packs maximum sustained winds of up to 55 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 65 kph.
As of the 5 p.m. bulletin, Usman is almost stationary.
It is expected to cross the northern portion of Leyte, Panay Island, Sulu Sea, northern Palawan, and West Philippine Sea before exiting the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) between Sunday evening and Monday morning.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, the provinces of Northern Palawan including Calamian and Cuyo Groups of Islands, Southern Quezon, Marinduque, Romblon, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate including Ticao and Burias Islands, southern Occidental Mindoro, southern Oriental Mindoro were placed under tropical cyclone warning Signal No. 1.
Also under Signal No. 1 are the provinces of Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Cebu including Camotes Islands, Aklan, Capiz, Iloilo, Guimaras, Antique, Northern Negros Occidental, and Dinagat Islands.
PAGASA said winds of 30 to 60 kph or intermittent rains may be expected within 36 hours in these provinces.
The state weather bureau advised fisherfolk and those with small seacraft not to venture out over the seaboards of areas under Signal No. 1.
Sea travel is also risky over seaboards of Northern Luzon, eastern seaboards of Central and Southern Luzon, and eastern seaboard of Surigao Provinces due to the approaching tropical depression and the surge of the northeast monsoon or “amihan.”
With the wide diameter of Usman, moderate to heavy rains is also expected over Bicol Region, Eastern Visayas, and Quezon province that might trigger flooding and landslides.
Light to moderate with occasional heavy rains will prevail over Metro Manila, Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan), Aurora, and the rest of Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) and of the Visayas.
On Saturday morning, Usman is expected to be in the vicinity of Ivisan, Capizan and will bring moderate to heavy rains over Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Bicol Region, while light to moderate with at times heavy rains are expected over Visayas and Aurora.
Residents of these areas, especially those living near river channels and in low-lying and mountainous areas, are advised to take appropriate measures, PAGASA said.
Palawan is most likely to experience scattered rain showers and thunderstorms due to the trough of Usman, which is exiting the counry on Monday, December 31, according to PAGASA.
Cloudy skies with light rains will also prevail over Cagayan Valley, Cordillera, Aurora, and Quezon due to northeast monsoon.
On January 1, PAGASA said Usman will no longer affect the country, but Cagayan Valley and Cordillera will remain cloudy with light rains while the rest of the country will have fair weather except for isolated rain showers.
Meanwhile, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board announced Friday afternoon that all Roll on-Roll Off (RoRo) public utility buses remain cancelled “until further announcement” due to the weather disturbance.
“We request passengers not to proceed anymore to bus terminals to avoid further inconvenience. Instead, all are advised to remain at home for their own safety,” the board said in the advisory.