MANILA - Christmas typhoon Ursula (international name: Phanfone) has maintained its strength as it crosses the Visayas and moves towards Masbate and Panay late Tuesday, the state weather bureau said.
The country's 21st and potentially last storm this year was last spotted in the vicinity of Calubian, Leyte, packing maximum winds of 130 km per hour and up to 180 kph gusts, PAGASA said.
It slightly slowed down, now moving west-northwest at 25 kph.
Ursula has so far made three landfalls, the first in Salcedo, Eastern Samar at 4:45 p.m., followed by Tacloban City at 7:30 p.m. and Cabucgayan, Biliran at 9:15 p.m.
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 "very destructive winds and intense rainfall" over southwestern portion of Samar, northern portion of Leyte and Biliran.
Extreme northern Cebu, Masbate, and northeastern Iloilo will also be affected by the eyewall in the next couple of hours.
Until evening of Christmas Day on Wednesday, Ursula will bring occasional to frequent heavy rains over Eastern Visayas, Masbate, northern and central Cebu, northern portion of Negros Provinces, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Romblon, Marinduque, Calamian Islands, Cuyo Islands, and Mindoro Provinces.
Light to moderate intermittent heavy rains, meanwhile, will be experienced over the rest of Bicol Region, rest of Visayas, CALABARZON, Aurora and the northern portion of mainland Palawan.
Storm surges of up to 2 meters may hit coastal areas in Samar, Eastern Samar, northern portion of Leyte, Biliran, Masbate, extreme northern Cebu, northeastern Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, northern Antique, Romblon, Marinduque, Mindoro Provinces, Calamian Islands, and Cuyo Islands in the next 24 hours, the weather agency warned.
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)
- northern Antique (Libertad, Pandan, Sebaste, Culasi, Tibiao)
- northeastern Iloilo (Lemery, Sara, Concepcion, San Dionisio, Batad, Estancia, Balasan, Carles)
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
- Southern Leyte
- the rest of northern Cebu (Tabuelan, Borbon, Tuburan, Sogod, Catmon, Carmen, Asturias)
- central Cebu (Danao City, Balamban, Compostela, Liloan, Consolacion, Mandaue City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Cordova, Talisay, Minglanilla, Naga City, San Fernando, Carcar City, Aloguinsan, Pinamungahan, Toledo City)
- the rest of northern Iloilo (Barotac Viejo, San Rafael, Passi City, Bingawan, Calinog, Lambunao, Dueñas, San Enrique, Banate, Anilao, Dingle, Barotac Nuevo, Pototan, Mina, Badiangan, Janiuay)
- central Antique (Barbaza, Laua-an, Bugasong, Patnongon, Valderrama)
- northern Negros Occidental (Talisay, Silay City, Enrique B. Magalona, Victorias City, Manapla, Cadiz City, Sagay City, Escalante City, Toboso, Calatrava)
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 mainland 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
- Dinagat Islands
- 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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