MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — Weather disturbance Auring on Friday afternoon weakened into a tropical storm, but more areas were placed under Signal No. 1, according to the state weather bureau.
PAGASA, however, warned that Auring could intensify again into a severe tropical storm before it makes a landfall.
"Further intensification into a typhoon within the forecast period remains less likely as of this time. 'Auring' will likely weaken while crossing the archipelago due to significant terrain interaction and dry air intrusion from the Northeast Monsoon," the weather agency said in its 5 p.m. bulletin.
The country's first storm of the year, moving westward at 14 kilometers per hour (kph), was last spotted 405 kilometers east southeast of Hinatuan town, Surigao del Sur, according to PAGASA.
It currently packs maximum sustained winds of 85 kph near the center with gusts of up to 105 kph.
Tropical cyclone warning Signal no. 1 is hoisted over the following areas, where 30 to 60 kph winds could rip roofs off nipa and cogon huts, damage rice crops and down banana plants:
- Southern Leyte and the southeastern portion of Eastern Samar (Guiuan including Homonhon Island)
- Dinagat Islands
- Surigao del Norte
- Surigao del Sur
- Agusan del Norte
- Agusan del Sur
- Davao Oriental
- Davao de Oro
- Davao del Norte
- Davao City
- The western portion of Misamis Oriental (Balingasag, Balingoan, Binuangan, Claveria, Gingoog City, Jasaan, Kinoguitan, Lagonglong, Magsaysay, Medina, Salay, Sugbongcogon, Tagoloan, Talisayan, Villanueva)
- The western portion of Bukidnon (Cabanglasan, Impasug-ong, Lantapan, Malaybalay City, Malitbog, Manolo Fortich, Maramag, Quezon, San Fernando, Sumilao, Valencia City)
Auring is still forecast to make landfall over the eastern coast of Caraga Region early Sunday.
Light to moderate with at times heavy rains will be experienced over Caraga, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Davao Oriental, Davao de Oro, and Davao del Norte on Friday night. But the same areas will have moderate to heavy with at times intense rains on Saturday, according to the weather agency.
Also on Saturday, Eastern and Central Visayas, the rest of Northern Mindanao, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato, and Davao City will experience light to moderate with at times heavy rains.
PAGASA warned that nearby areas could experience flooding despite the absence of rainfall. This is due to surface runoff or river channels' swelling.
"Under these conditions, scattered to widespread 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," the agency explained.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), meanwhile, cited a "high risk" of flooding and landslides in various areas in Mimaropa, Visayas and Eastern Mindanao as the country is still experiencing La Niña on top of the tropical storm.
"Local governments of communities located in the landslide-prone areas, flood plains and banks of the river systems must undertake the necessary preparations as prescribed in the Oplan Listo Manual of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)," the agency said in a statement.
Office of Civil Defense Deputy Administrator for Operations Assistant Secretary Casiano Monilla stressed the importance of planning in local governments that would ensure public safety while facing a storm amid the pandemic.
"We emphasize the importance of evacuation planning, the preparation of relief stockpiles and evacuation facilities as well as the continued compliance to minimum health standards against COVID-19," said Monilla.
The Office of Civil Defense, citing PAGASA, said the Philippines could face a few more storms in the next few months "with a lot of rainfall" because of La Niña, which is expected to last until April this year.