By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Tropical cyclone signal No. 1 has been raised in at least 15 areas on Monday, as storm “Ursula” (international name: “Phanfone”) is poised to make landfall over Eastern Visayas on Christmas Eve.
Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) weather specialist Chris Perez said “Ursula” had entered the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) around 5 a.m. Monday. It is the 21st cyclone, and most likely the final one, in 2019.
As of 10 a.m. Monday, “Ursula” had maintained its maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 80 kph. The weather disturbance could further intensify into a severe tropical storm prior to its landfall between Tuesday afternoon and evening, he pointed out.
It was estimated at 790 kilometers (km) east-northeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, and moved west-northwest at 30 kph.
Signal No. 1 has been hoisted over Sorsogon, Masbate, Ticao Island, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, northern Cebu, central Cebu, northeastern Bohol, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, and Siargao Islands, as early as Monday to allow residents in these areas to prepare for the approaching storm, Perez said.
He added that Signal No. 1 may be raised over the rest of Bohol, rest of Cebu, northern Negros Occidental, Guimaras, eastern portion of Aklan, Capiz, northern Iloilo, Romblon, Albay and Burias Island in the 5 p.m. severe weather bulletin.
The public should prepare for moderate to heavy rains over Dinagat Islands, Siargao and Bucas Grande Islands, Eastern Visayas, Sorsogon, Masbate, Romblon, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Guimaras, and northern portions of Cebu and Negros Occidental on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, light to moderate with intermittent heavy rains over Quezon and the rest of Visayas, Bicol Region and Surigao del Norte are likely to prevail.
“Strong winds associated with tropical storm may begin to affect the areas under Signal No. 1 on Tuesday morning. This may bring light damage to medium to high-risk structures,” Perez added.
PAGASA Administrator Vicente Malano said suspension of maritime activities may be experienced in areas where Signal No. 1 is in effect. Moderate to rough seas will prevail over the eastern seaboards of the country as early as Monday.
Meanwhile, rough to very rough seas may be experienced over the northern and eastern seaboards of Bicol Region and the eastern seaboards of Eastern Visayas and Caraga Region beginning Monday evening or Tuesday morning.
Sea travel will be risky for small seacraft over these areas.