Weather chiefs urge vigilance as Usman closes in on Philippines


Weather chiefs have urged all residents and travellers to keep a close eye on updates as Tropical Depression Usman approaches the Philippines.

In a briefing at 11am today (Thursday, December 27) the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Usman was 450kms east of Surigao City, Surigao del Norte, or 440kms east-southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

It is now moving west at 15kph, down from the previous 20kph.

The tropical depression still has maximum winds of 55kph and gustiness of up to 65kph. However, it is likely to strengthen into a tropical storm before making landfall. 

Signal Number 1 has now been raised in 18 areas:

  • Romblon
  • Catanduanes
  • Camarines Sur
  • Albay
  • Sorsogon
  • Masbate including Ticao Island and Burias Island
  • Eastern Samar
  • Northern Samar
  • Samar
  • Biliran
  • Leyte
  • Southern Leyte
  • northern part of Cebu including Camotes Islands
  • Aklan
  • Capiz
  • northern part of Iloilo
  • northern part of Occidental
  • Dinagat Islands

Moderate to heavy rain is expected in Bicol, Eastern Visayas and the Dinagat Islands from today.

There will also be moderate to heavy rain in the Visayas, Bicol, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Quezon tomorrow.

Usman is expected to make landfall in Eastern Samar tomorrow afternoon.

Also from tomorrow afternoon until Saturday, light to heavy rain is expected in , Calabarzon and Mimaropa.

Areas in Usman’s path should be on alert for potential flash flooding and landslides.

PAGASA also warned that sea was risky in areas under Signal No. 1, as well as in the northern and western seaboards of Northern Luzon and eastern seaboard of the Surigao provinces. This is due to both Usman and the surge of the northeast monsoon or hanging amihan. 

PAGASA Weather Division chief Esperanza Cayanan said: “We’re still in a festive mood or holiday mood, so we might become too relaxed with this tropical cyclone we’re monitoring. Especially when it comes to planning your trips, coordinate with the authorities so you won’t be stranded at the .”

PAGASA said it is no longer advisable to go to seaports in the following areas today, as Signal No. 1 could be raised in the afternoon and prompt the cancellation of trips:

  • Camarines Norte
  • southern part of Quezon
  • Marinduque
  • southern part of Oriental Mindoro
  • Antique
  • southern part of Iloilo
  • Guimaras

Based on its latest forecast track, PAGASA expects Usman to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility either next Sunday evening or on the morning of New Year’s Eve.

Usman is the 21st tropical cyclone to hit the Philippines in 2018. The average number of tropical cyclones per year is 20. 

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