Christmas Typhoon Ursula strengthens near Iloilo

Christmas typhoon Ursula (international name: Phanfone) intensified as it crossed Jintotolo Channel north of Iloilo early Wednesday morning, state weather bureau PAGASA said.

The country’s 21st and potentially last storm this year is currently packing maximum sustained winds of up to 140 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 195 kph.

The typhoon’s eyewall is bringing destructive winds and intense rainfall over southern Masbate, Capiz and northeastern Iloilo, PAGASA said.

It warned that Romblon, Aklan, and northern Antique will be affected by Ursula’s eyewall in the coming hours. 

“The passage of the eye in some of the aforementioned areas will bring calm conditions. However, as soon as the eye moves out of the area, violent conditions will resume as the other areas of the eyewall passes over,” PAGASA said.

It said heavy to intermittent intense rains may occur over Masbate, extreme northern Cebu, northern Negros Provinces, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Guimaras, Romblon, Calamian Islands, Cuyo Islands, and Mindoro Provinces. Light to moderate rains with isolated heavy rainshowers over Bicol Region, rest of Visayas, CALABARZON, Marinduque, Aurora and the northern portion of mainland Palawan on Wednesday.

“Residents in these areas are advised to take appropriate measures to reduce the potential impact of flooding and rain-induced landslides, especially in areas identified to be highly to very highly susceptible to these hazards,” it added.

PAGASA said storm surge of up to two meters or more than 6 feet high may affect several coastal areas in extreme northern Cebu, Masbate, Aklan, Capiz, northern Antique, northeastern Iloilo, Romblon, Marinduque, and Mindoro Provinces, Calamian Islands, and Cuyo Islands.

The typhoon has made several landfall over Salcedo, Eastern Samar (4:45 p.m. Tuesday); Tacloban City, Leyte (7:30 p.m. Tuesday); Cabucgayan, Biliran (9:15 p.m. Tuesday); Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo (2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

It is forecast to be 150km northwest of Coron, Palawan by Thursday morning.

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 
  • Ticao Island, 
  • Romblon, 
  • southern Oriental Mindoro 
  • southern Occidental Mindoro
  • extreme northern Cebu 
  • Bantayan Islands 
  • Capiz
  • Aklan
  • northern Antique 
  • northern Iloilo 

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 Quezon 
  • Marinduque
  • the rest of Oriental Mindoro 
  • the rest of Occidental Mindoro 
  • Lubang Island
  • Albay
  • Sorsogon
  • Burias Island
  • Calamian and Cuyo Islands
  • Biliran
  • northwestern Leyte 
  • Northern Samar 
  • Samar
  • the rest of northern Cebu 
  • Camotes Islands 
  • central Cebu 
  • the rest of Iloilo
  • the rest of Antique
  • Guimaras
  • northern Negros Occidental 

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: 

  • Bataan
  • Metro Manila
  • Rizal
  • Cavite
  • the rest of Quezon
  • Laguna
  • Batangas
  • Camarines Sur
  • Camarines Norte
  • Catanduanes
  • northern mainland Palawan 
  • Eastern Samar
  • the rest of Leyte
  • Southern Leyte
  • Bohol
  • Siquijor
  • the rest of Cebu
  • the rest of Negros Occidental
  • Negros Oriental

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. 

Several flights scheduled to depart on on December 24 and 25 were also either canceled or rescheduled due to Typhoon Ursula. 

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. 

Typhoon Ursula latest Update from PAGASA