More areas under Signal Nos. 1, 2 due to Tropical Storm Ursula

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MANILA, Philippines – More areas were placed under tropical cyclone wind signals early Monday evening, December 23, due to the approaching Tropical Storm Ursula (Phanfone).

In a bulletin issued 8 pm on Monday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Ursula is now 625 kilometers east of Surigao City, Surigao del Norte.

The tropical storm slightly slowed down, now moving west northwest at 25 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 30 km/h.

Ursula maintained its strength, with maximum winds of 75 km/h and gustiness of up to 90 km/h. But it is likely to intensify into a severe tropical storm before making landfall.

Ursula could make landfall in Eastern Visayas on Tuesday afternoon or evening, December 24, Christmas Eve. PAGASA earlier appealed to the public to be vigilant.

Here is the latest list of areas under tropical cyclone wind signals:

Signal No. 2 (winds of 61 km/h to 120 km/h)

Signal No. 1 (winds of 30 km/h to 60 km/h)

PAGASA warned that damaging winds may begin to affect areas under Signal No. 2 on Tuesday afternoon.

Strong winds may also begin to affect the northeastern part of Mindanao and the rest of Eastern Visayas on Tuesday morning; the southern part of Bicol and some portions of Central Visayas on Tuesday afternoon; and some portions of Western Visayas on Tuesday evening. (READ: Why is it now called tropical cyclone 'wind' – and not 'warning' – signals?)

PAGASA maintained the following rainfall outlook for Ursula:

Between Tuesday afternoon, December 24, and Wednesday morning, December 25

Between Wednesday morning and late evening, December 25

Areas in Ursula's path must brace for possible flash floods and landslides. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

PAGASA also warned that the Philippines' eastern seaboards will continue to have moderate to rough seas on Monday.

Sea conditions could worsen beginning Monday night or Tuesday morning, as rough to very rough seas may be experienced in the northern and eastern seaboards of Bicol and the eastern seaboards of Eastern Visayas and Caraga. Travel will be risky, especially for those using small vessels.

Maritime trips in areas under tropical cyclone wind signals have been canceled. Ursula has also triggered flight cancellations, disrupting Filipinos' holiday travel plans.

Based on its latest forecast track, Ursula is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Friday, December 27.

Forecast track of Tropical Storm Ursula (Phanfone) as of December 23, 2019, 8 pm. Image from PAGASA

Forecast track of Tropical Storm Ursula (Phanfone) as of December 23, 2019, 8 pm.

Image from PAGASA

Ursula is the Philippines' 21st tropical cyclone for 2019, exceeding the yearly average of 20. (READ: LIST: PAGASA's names for tropical cyclones in 2019)

Ursula is also the second tropical cyclone for December, after Typhoon Tisoy (Kammuri). PAGASA earlier said it was expecting one or two tropical cyclones during the month.

In December 2018, the Philippines had a deadly tropical cyclone during Christmas – Tropical Depression Usman. It left 156 people dead and 105 others injured in Eastern Visayas, Bicol, and Mimaropa, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

PAGASA declared the start of the rainy season last June 14. – Rappler.com