Depression Urduja is turning into a tropical storm as it approaches Samar provinces of the Philippines. It has slowed down on Thursday but become more intense as it prepares to make landfall.
A red warning has been issued in the south of Eastern Samar, which indicates the possibility of heavy flooding in low-lying regions. Additionally, an orange warning in the north of Eastern Samar points to a flood threat from the storm.
Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said in its 2 pm update that the storm has winds up to 65 kph in the center and gusts having a speed of 80 kph, which is higher than the previous speeds of 55 kph and 65 kph recorded. PAGASA has also issued several warnings in Eastern Visayas against storms, flooding and landslides.
The weather bureau had said that the tropical depression is slowing down, from 10 kph to 7 kph, while moving west, reported CNN. At 11 am, Urduja was 120 kilometers away to the east of Guiuan town in Eastern Samar. Flood alerts have mentioned areas such as Northern Samar, Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran. Mountainous regions in Eastern Visayas face the additional fear of landslides.
The tropical storm is expected to make landfall on Friday morning, strengthening as it passes over the Leyte Gulf, according to previous weather forecasts. Regions under signal 1 storm alert are Luzon and Visayas, many parts of which are already experiencing heavy rainfall. Pre-schools and kindergartens have been suspended.
PAGASA also said that heavy rainfall is expected over the Visayas, Bicol, Caraga and Northern Mindanao all through Thursday and Friday. Warnings for flash floods are in place in these regions. Fishermen and seacrafts have been advised not to venture off the Bicol and Eastern Visayas coast as the sea will be rough.
All vessel trips in the Ormoc, Leyte and the Cebu-Ormoc route have been suspended on Thursday, said the Philippine Coast Guard.