Considering the rather strategic location of the Philippine archipelago, it is no wonder that the country is right in the middle of “typhoon alley” for the Pacific Ocean. While there is a reprieve of sorts during the strongest days of the Monsoon (Amihan) in the early weeks of the year, inevitably the low-pressure areas will start forming up in the Pacific to build up into typhoons. Already this week the weather bureau has recorded the first notable weather disturbance to approach the Philippines, a tropical storm called Auring locally, and Dujuan internationally. As of early Friday morning, the severity of this storm has already intensified.
The Philippine Star reports that Auring, for the past few days a tropical storm, has now strengthened into a severe tropical storm according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). The upping of category was done following observation of Auring as of 10 AM this February 19, where it was reckoned to be 535 kilometers due east-southeast of Hinatuan in Surigao Del Sur. Its maximum sustained winds are now at 95 kilometers per hour, with a gustiness of about 115 km/h, all as it draws closer to land on a southwesterly direction.
Owing to the lingering presence of the Amihan, TS Auring is not moving more northwestward than other typhoons usually later in the year. As such, its landfall has been determined by PAGASA to be at Region XIII – Caraga along its eastern coast by Sunday morning of February 21. From there, its path will begin hewing to the northwest, catching the Visayas and Region IV – Mimaropa over the following week. Of course, traversing the archipelago is expected to weaken the storm, which will not have ample time to become a full-blown typhoon anyway. Dry air from the Amihan will also contribute.
But even before actual landfall, the proximity of Auring to eastern Mindanao at least has led to PAGASA issuing Typhoon Signal No. 1 (intermittent rains, 30-60 km/h winds within 36 hours) at key provinces of Region XI – Davao and Caraga. To wit, the alert encompasses: all of Davao Oriental; the Davao De Oro municipalities of Pantukan, Maragusan, New Bataan, Compostela and Monkayo; the Agusan Del Sur municipalities of San Francisco, Rosario, Bunawan, Trento and Santa Josefa; and finally in Surigao Del Sur the city of Bislig plus municipalities of Bayabas, Cagwait, Marihatag, San Agustin, Lianga, Barobo, Tagbina, Hinatuan and Lingig.
A second advisory from PAGASA is expected later this afternoon, at 5 PM. Any additional areas with storm signals or upgrade signals to number 2 will be announced by then.
Image courtesy of Manila Bulletin