Parts of the Philippines have already been left reeling by the passing of tropical storm “Urduja” through Eastern Visayas and parts of Mindanao and Luzon last week, before leaving the country’s Area of Responsibility just this Tuesday. Now there won’t even be much time to relax as another depression, developing due east of Mindanao, just became yet another contributor to a very wet and rainy Christmas season for 2017. Named “Vinta” by PAGASA, the tropical storm is now bearing down towards the province of Surigao del Sur, intensifying its wind speed and gustiness as it goes.
CNN Philippines reports that PAGASA’s latest advisory at 5AM of Thursday, December 21, has pegged Vinta’s maximum wind speed at 65 kilometers per hour, gustiness of 80 km/h, and was last located some 510 km east of the Surigao del Sur municipality of Hinatuan, travelling west at 18 km/h. The next 24 hours have already been slated as having scattered and widespread rains happening all over the Regions of Eastern Visayas, Caraga and Davao. Not surprisingly, these rains have already been happening much earlier, including sudden bursts of downpours as farther south as parts of General Santos City in SOCSCSARGEN.
Already several provinces have been issued tropical storm signal warnings by PAGASA as Vinta makes its final approach, estimated to be sometime over the weekend. Thus far, Surigao del Sur is the only location with Typhoon Signal Number 2. Signal Number 1 warnings were given to Southern Leyte in Eastern Visayas; three of five provinces in Northern Mindanao: Bukidnon, Camiguin and Misamis Oriental; most of Davao Region: Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, and the northern portions of Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental; four of five provinces in Caraga: Agusan del Norte and del Sur, Dinagat Islands, and Surigao del Norte. Even SOCSKSARGEN has not been spared; North Cotabato also has a Signal Number 1 up.
The fact that Vinta’s probable landfall happens close to or on the Christmas weekend, officials from both the Department of Interior and Local Government along with the Department of Transportation have begun issuing travel advisories to commuters in the affected areas who are planning to head for their hometowns towards the end of the week. The LTFRB has also suspended bus trips travelling via RORO to the Visayas and Mindanao. Even sea travel has been canceled.
Though Christmas holidays are already starting, for some schools still holding classes in Davao City, the local government has called for suspension in all levels starting Wednesday to Friday.
By the time Urduja left this week, casualties in the Philippines numbered 41 dead and 45 missing. These numbers are grimly expected to be added to when tropical storm Vinta comes to town.
Photo courtesy of cnn phils