Typhoon Ursula batters Calamian Islands

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MANILA, Philippines – Typhoon Ursula (Phanfone) brought very destructive winds and intense rain to the Calamian Islands while moving over the Mindoro Strait early Wednesday evening, December 25.

In a bulletin issued 8 pm on Wednesday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Ursula is already 75 kilometers west northwest of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, or 70 kilometers north northeast of Coron, Palawan.

The typhoon continues to move west northwest at 20 kilometers per hour (km/h), still with maximum winds of 140 km/h and gustiness of up to 195 km/h.

Before pounding the Calamian Islands, Ursula made landfall 7 times – the first 3 in Eastern Visayas on Christmas Eve, the next 3 in Western Visayas on Christmas Day, and the 7th in Oriental Mindoro, also on Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 24

Wednesday, December 25

Tropical cyclone wind signals have been lifted for Capiz as well as parts of Antique and Aklan. These areas are among the badly hit.

Below are the areas still under Signal Nos. 1, 2, and 3. (READ: Why is it now called tropical cyclone 'wind' – and not 'warning' – signals?)

Signal No. 3 (winds of 121 km/h to 170 km/h)

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

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

Ursula also continues to bring rain, expected to last throughout Wednesday evening. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Occasional to frequent heavy rain with intermittent intense rain

Light to moderate rain with intermittent heavy rain

Aside from those places above, PAGASA issued a separate rainfall advisory at 8 pm on Wednesday, warning of light to heavy rain in:

There may also be storm surges 1 to 2 meters high in these areas:

Travel remains risky in the seaboards of areas under tropical cyclone wind signals.

The Philippine Coast Guard said there were at least 23,789 stranded passengers in Bicol, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Southern Tagalog, Northern Mindanao, Western Visayas, and Southern Visayas. Some sea trips have since resumed with the lifting of tropical cyclone wind signals for certain areas.

Dozens of domestic flights were canceled on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well.

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

Forecast track of Typhoon Ursula (Phanfone) as of December 25, 2019, 8 pm. Image from PAGASA

Forecast track of Typhoon Ursula (Phanfone) as of December 25, 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