By Ellalyn de Vera Ruiz
Tropical depression “Samuel” is seen to further intensify into a storm before its expected landfall over Siargao or Dinagat Islands Tuesday evening.
As early as Monday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) raised tropical cyclone warning Signal No. 1 over areas that will be directly affected by “Samuel”.
These areas include Masbate, Samar, Eastern Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Surigaodel Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Misamis Oriental and Camiguin.
Signal No. 1 is also expected to be hoisted over Northern Samar, Capiz, Iloilo and Guimaras.
PAGASA weather specialist Aldczar Aurelio said the cyclone has maintained its strength with maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 65 kph, but moved faster at 25 kph northwest.
It may intensify into a tropical storm prior to landfall, as the center of “Samuel” is expected hit Eastern Visayas or Caraga Tuesday evening, Aurelio said.
On Monday evening, “Samuel” was at 505 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigaodel Sur.
PAGASA warned of moderate to heavy rains that may trigger flooding and landslides over Agusandel Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Samar, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Negros Occidental, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and Camiguin.
Residents of these areas, especially those living near or along river channels, low-lying and mountainous areas are advised to take precautionary measures, coordinate with local disaster risk reduction and management offices, and continue monitoring PAGASA’s weather updates.
Likewise, fisherfolk and those with smallsea crafts in areas under Signal No. 1 and those in the eastern seaboards of Visayas and Mindanao are advised not to sail.
After its landfall, “Samuel” will traverse landmass on its way to the Sulu Sea and may likely leave the country’s area of responsibility either Thursday evening or Friday morning, Aurelio said.
The cyclone is expected at 195 km east of Maasin City, southern Leyte by Tuesday afternoonand 65 km east-southeast of Cuyo, Palawan on Wednesday afternoon.
“Samuel” could intensify further into a severe tropical storm after it leaves PAR, PAGASA added.