MANILA - Christmas typhoon Ursula (international name: Phanfone) intensifies further Tuesday night as it threatens Leyte province, the state weather bureau said.
The country's 21st and potentially last storm this year was last spotted in the vicinity of Marabut, Samar, packing maximum winds of 130 km per hour and up to 180 kph gusts, PAGASA said.
It also picked up speed, now moving west-northwest at 30 kph.
The storm's entry has stranded thousands in ports hoping to go home to their provinces for Christmas as sea travel in areas at risk has been barred.
The eyewall of Ursula is bringing violent winds over the southern portion of Eastern Samar and Samar, and the northern portion of Leyte. The province of Biliran will also be affected by the eyewall in the next couple of hours.
Until noon of Christmas Day on Wednesday, Ursula will bring occasional to frequent heavy rains over Dinagat Islands, Siargao and Bucas Grande Islands, Eastern Visayas, Sorsogon, Masbate, northern and central Cebu, northern Negros Provinces, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Guimaras and Romblon.
Light to moderate intermittent heavy rains, meanwhile, will be experienced over the rest of Bicol Region, Quezon, Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro, and the rest of Visayas and Surigao del Norte.
Storm surges of up to 2 meters may hit coastal areas in Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, and Leyte, the weather agency warned.
Ursula is expected to be within the area of Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro in the next 24 hours.
PAGASA hoisted storm warning signal no. 3 over the following areas, where winds could uproot big trees, peel off roofs and cause "moderate to heavy damage to exposed communities."
- Masbate including Ticao Island
- Northern Samar
- Eastern Samar
- extreme northern Cebu including Camotes Islands (Daanbantayan, Medellin, Bantayan, Sta. Fe, Madridejos, San Francisco, Poro, Tudela, Pilar)
It also raised storm warning signal no. 2 over the following areas, where winds between 61 kph and 120 kph may bring "light to moderate" damage.
- Southern portion of Quezon (Mulanay, San Narciso, San Andres, San Francisco)
- Oriental Mindoro
- Occidental Mindoro including Lubang Island
- Burias Island, Calamian and Cuyo Islands
- central portion of northern Cebu (Bogo City, Tabogon, Tabuelan, Borbon)
- northeastern Iloilo (Carles, Balasan, Estancia, Batad, San Dionisio, Sara, Concepcion, Lemery, Ajuy)
- northern Antique (Libertad, Pandan, Sebaste, Culasi, Tibiao)
- Southern Leyte and extreme northern Negros Occidental(Enrique B. Magalona, Victorias, Manapla, Cadiz, Sagay, Escalante, Toboso)
Storm signal no. 1 — which means winds could "partially unroof" houses made of light materials and cause "significant damage" to rice crops — was, meanwhile, hoisted over the following areas:
- Metro Manila
- rest of Quezon
- Camarines Sur
- Camarines Norte
- northern Palawan (Linapacan, El Nido, Taytay, Araceli, Dumaran, San Vicente, Roxas)
- The rest of Cebu
- rest of Antique
- rest of Iloilo
- Negros Oriental
- rest of Negros Occidental
- Surigao del Norte including Siargao and Bucas Grande Islands
Some 16,600 passengers were stuck in ports in Metro Manila, Southern Luzon, Bicol Region and Visayas after sea trips were canceled due to the bad weather, said the Philippine Coast Guard.
Ursula is expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility between Friday night and Saturday morning, if it continues moving on its current track, said PAGASA.
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.
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