Christmas storm Ursula enters Philippines, heavy rains expected

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 23 2019 07:02 AM | Updated as of Dec 23 2019 11:12 AM

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MANILA (UPDATE) — Tropical storm Ursula (international name: Phanfone) entered the Philippine area of responsibility on Monday, 2 days before Christmas, threatening to bring rains in the southern portion of the country still reeling from a series of deadly quakes. 

Ursula was about 1,000 kilometers east of Mindanao at 6 a.m., packing maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour and 80 kph gusts, said PAGASA weather forecaster Benison Estareja.

On Christmas Eve, Tuesday, the storm will bring light to moderate rains over parts of Visayas, and the eastern parts of Mindanao and Southern Luzon, he told radio DZMM. 

The country's 21st storm this year could further strengthen before making landfall in Samar or Leyte province on Tuesday afternoon and crossing Eastern Visayas, he said.

Ursula on Christmas Day, Wednesday, will spawn moderate to heavy rains that can trigger floods and landslides over Visayas, and Bicol and Mimaropa regions, Estareja warned. 

The southern province of Davao Del Sur, the epicenter of a magnitude 6.9 quake last Dec. 15, is among areas that may experience moderate rains, PAGASA weather forecaster Shiela Reyes told ABS-CBN News.

The recent tremors left at least 13 dead, cracked some 25,000 houses and spawned around 1,000 aftershocks so far, according to the disaster agency. 
 
Meanwhile, Metro Manila, the southern parts of Mindanao, central and northern Luzon will experience fair weather that may be marred by isolated thunderstorms on Dec. 24 and 25, said Estareja. 

The storm could prompt the cancellation of flights and sea travel in Mindanao on the same dates, he said. 

If Ursula continues moving at 20 kph, it could leave the Philippines on Friday, said the meteorologist. 

Christmas storm Usman, one of the deadliest tropical cyclones of 2018, left 156 dead and damaged some 32,000 houses in parts of Luzon and Visayas, the disaster agency reported last year. 

Visit the ABS-CBN Weather Center for the latest weather updates.