By Ellalyn de Vera Ruiz
The cyclone east of Visayas has further intensified into a tropical storm and was given an international name of “Maria.”
The storm, which is still outside the country’s area of responsibility as of Thursday, was estimated at 2,210 kilometers east of Visayas, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
It has maximum sustained winds of 75 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 90 kph. It is forecast to move west-northwest slowly.
Maria had no direct effect yet over any part of the country as of Thursday.
According to PAGASA weather specialist Ezra Bulquerin, Maria will likely enter the northeastern boundary of the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) by Sunday or Monday.
It will be given a local name of “Gardo” once inside the PAR.
PAGASA earlier said the cyclone could leave the PAR on the same day it enters, and may not make landfall over any part of the Philippines.
This Friday, Bulquerin said Palawan, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Guimaras and Iloilo will have cloudy skies with scattered rain showers and thunderstorms due to the southwest monsoon or “hanging habagat.”
Meanwhile, Metro Manila and the rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers due to localized thunderstorms.
The public, especially those living in low-lying and mountainous areas throughout the country, are warned against possible flooding and landslides resulting from light to moderate to at times heavy rains.