'Auring' maintains strength, is almost stationary over PH Sea

Tropical storm "Auring" (international name "Dujuan") has further slowed down, and remained almost stationary off the eastern coast of Mindanao on Saturday evening, Feb. 20.

In its 11 p.m. severe weather bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said storm Auring has maintained its maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center, and gustiness of up to 80 kph, but was barely moving over the Philippine Sea east of Mindanao.

The center of tropical storm Auring was estimated at 480 kilometers (km) east-southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur around 10 p.m.

Within 48 hours, PAGASA said Auring will move generally northwest, with periods of erratic movement prior to landfall over Dinagat Islands-Eastern Samar (southern portion including Homonhon Island)-Leyte areas between Sunday evening, Feb. 21, and early Monday, Feb. 22.

The weather bureau, however, is not discounting a possible weakening into a tropical depression before Auring hits land "due to persistent vertical wind shear and dry air intrusion associated with the surge of the northeast monsoon."

It is also not ruling out the possibility that Auring will maintain its strength until landfall. 

After its landfall, the storm is expected to weaken considerably due to significant terrain interaction and the increasing wind shear, leading to deterioration into a remnant low within 48 hours, "possibly sooner."

Given these possible scenarios, Auring remains a threat to several areas in Visayas, Mindanao, and parts of Luzon.

Signal No. 1 remains hoisted over the southeastern portion of Masbate, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Bohol, Siquijor, northern Negros Occidental, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Davao City, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, and Bukidnon.

Those in these areas have a 36-hour lead time to prepare for the approaching storm's wind impact.

Moderate to heavy rains may affect Eastern Samar, Dinagat Islands, and Surigao del Norte until Sunday. 

Moreover, light to moderate with at times heavy rains could affect Quezon, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan, Bicol region, Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, and the rest of Visayas and Caraga region.

By Monday, Feb. 22, light to moderate with at times heavy rains may persist over Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan, Bicol region, Northern Samar, Samar, Eastern Samar, Quezon, Aurora, Isabela, Cagayan, and Western Visayas.

"Under these conditions, isolated to scattered flooding, including flash floods, and rain-induced landslides are likely during heavy or prolonged rainfall especially in areas that are highly or very highly susceptible to these hazards as identified in hazard maps. Adjacent or nearby areas may also experience flooding in the absence of such rainfall occurrence due to surface runoff or swelling of river channels," PAGASA warned. 

In the next 24 hours, PAGASA said the combined effects of the surge northeast monsoon and storm Auring will bring strong breeze to near-gale conditions with occasionally higher gusts over the areas where tropical cyclone wind signals are in effect, as well as over Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan, Aurora, and the rest of Visayas and Bicol region.

PAGASA said Auring will be at 120 km southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar by Sunday evening, and at 30 km west-southwest of Romblon, Romblon by Monday evening.