MANILA – Tropical Depression “Usman” is gaining strength and can develop into a tropical storm before it makes landfall in Eastern Samar province today, the state weather bureau said.
In a media briefing yesterday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said 11 areas in Luzon and Visayas were placed under signal No. 1.
These areas were Sorsogon, Masbate including Ticao Island, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Biliran, Leyte; Southern Leyte, and northern Cebu including Camotes and Dinagat islands.
Pagasa said storm signals might also be raised over Albay, including Burias Island, Romblon, Aklan, Capiz, and northern sections of Negros Occidental and Iloilo province.
“Nakikita natin na since nasa karagatan pa ito, posible pa itong maging tropical storm bago pa siya lumapit dito sa may Eastern Samar area,” said Pagasa weather forecaster Raymond Ordinaro.
Moderate to heavy rains are expected within the 300-kilometer diameter of the tropical depression, according to Pagasa. These include Southern Luzon, Bicol Region, Visayas, and parts of Mindanao.
Pagasa last estimated “Usman” at 35 km east of Surigao City, Surigao del Norte, bearing maximum winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 65 kph.
It is moving west northwest at 20 kph.
“Usman” is expected to weaken back into a tropical depression after passing northern parts of Leyte, Cebu and Panay islands before reaching Sulu Sea by Saturday afternoon.
“Usman” may reach the South China Sea on Sunday afternoon and exit the Philippine area of responsibility on New Year’s Eve.
However, it may further enhance the northeast monsoon or “Amihan”, bringing rains to the country in the coming days./PN