Storm Quinta strengthens ahead of Visayas landfall

by Jojo Malig,

Posted at Dec 25 2012 05:33 PM | Updated as of Dec 26 2012 04:13 PM

ABS-CBN Weather Center screenshot of Tropical Storm Quinta before it makes landfall in the Philippines Tuesday.

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) - Storm warning signals were raised Tuesday afternoon in 24 areas in the Visayas and Mindanao as Tropical Storm Quinta (international name Wukong) gained strength just hours before its landfall over Leyte island, state weather bureau PAGASA said.

Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Northern Cebu including Camotes Island in the Visayas, as well as Dinagat Province, Siargao Island, and Surigao Del Norte in Mindanao are under public storm warning signal number 2.

The areas will experience the storm's winds of 61 to 100 kilometers per hour in the next 24 hours, PAGASA said in its 5 p.m. bulletin.

Meanwhile, public storm warning signal number 1 has been hoisted over Northern Samar, Masbate including Ticao Island, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Negros Provinces, and Siquijor in the Visayas, as well as in Agusan Del Norte, Agusan Del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Camiguin, and Surigao Del Sur in Mindanao.

The tropical storm  is expected to bring strong winds and heavy rain to the southern island of Dinagat from 10:00 p.m. local time, as well as nearby islands Samar and Leyte, the state weather service said.

"These could bring floods and landslides, particularly in landslide-prone areas like southern Leyte and Samar," PAGASA's Nathaniel Servando said.

Servando said storm surges of up to 4 meters (13 feet) were also expected on the coasts of the three islands.

However, he said the storm was expected to spare the large southern island of Mindanao, which was devastated by Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) earlier this month.

The storm is bringing estimated rainfall of 10 to 20 mm per hour (heavy to intense) within its 350-kilometer diameter.

Quinta is now packing maximum sustained winds of 75 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 90 kph. It is moving west at 24 kph.

The storm's center was spotted over Leyte Gulf at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

It is expected to make landfall between 10 p.m. Tuesday to past midnight Wednesday in Palo, Tanauan, Tolosa, Dulag, Mayorga or Abuyog in eastern Leyte, according to the Department of National Defense.

It is expected to be 50 km east of Cuyo Island Wednesday afternoon and at 320 km west northwest of Puerto Princesa City by Thursday afternoon.

"Residents living in low lying and mountainous areas under public storm warning signal #2 and #1 are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides. Likewise, those living in coastal areas under public storm warning signal #2 are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by this tropical cyclone," PAGASA warned.

It also advised owners of fishing boats and other small seacrafts not to venture out into the seaboards of Luzon and over the eastern seaboard of Visayas and Mindanao.

Floods and landslides unleashed by Bopha, which hit on December 4 and was the strongest storm to batter the disaster-prone country this year, killed more than 1,000 people and hundreds more remain missing, according to officials.

The Philippines is hit by about 20 major storms or typhoons each year that occur mainly during the rainy season between June and October. - with a report from Agence France-Presse

Projected track of Tropical Storm Quinta