MANILA, Philippines — Many residents of the Visayas and Mindanao woke up to a wet and windy Christmas after a low pressure area in the Pacific ocean developed into a tropical depression then intensified into a storm on Tuesday.
The forming of the storm “Quinta” defied earlier predictions of forecasters who thought there was little likelihood for the low-pressure area to turn into a tropical cyclone.
By mid-Tuesday, public storm signals were up over several provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao as “Quinta” whipped up peak winds of 65 kilometers per hour (kilometers per hour) near the center and gusts of up to 80 kph.
But the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the storm was moving in a more northerly direction than typhoon Pablo, which cut a deadly path across Mindanao island in the first week of December.
“Davao region is not expected to feel the impact of ‘Quinta’ much because the storm is heading toward the Visayas, unlike typhoon Pablo, which moved lower south,” forecaster Vic Manalo III of the Philippine Atmospherics, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, said.
The storm, the 17th to hit the country this year, was forecast to move westward at 19 kilometers per hour.
In Pagasa’s 5 p.m. update, more provinces were placed under public storm signals.
Under signal no. 2 were:
Under signal no. 1 were Northern Samar, Masbate, Ticao Island, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Negros provinces, Siquijor, and the rest of Cebu in the Visayas, and Agusan Del Norte, Agusan Del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Camiguin, and Surigao Del Sur in Mindanao.
The storm intensified slightly, packing peak winds of 75 kph near the center and gustiness of 90 kph. It was forecast to move faster westward at 24 kph.
As of 4 p.m., the eye of the storm was observed 90 kilometers southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
Pagasa forecasters earlier said there was only a small likelihood the low-pressure area would develop into a tropical cyclone. But Manalo said any low-pressure area forming over an ocean carried the potential of turning into a storm as it kept absorbing moisture.
The forecaster said “Quinta” would likely make landfall over Leyte on Wednesday morning. “Since the storm is moving toward the Visayas, which is a group of islands, it will probably make several landfalls before exiting into the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
Manalo said “Quinta” would not likely turn into a typhoon, especially upon hitting land.
As of mid-Tuesday, Pagasa forecast the storm moving near Coron, Palawan, by Thursday morning. By Friday morning, it is projected to be 450 kilometers west of Coron.
A signal no. 1 storm with winds of 30-60 kph is strong enough to snap the twigs and branches of trees, and tilt or flatten banana plants. On the other hand, a signal no. 2 storm packs 61-100 kph winds that can cause damage to crops such as rice and corn, and unroof nipa and cogon houses.
“Quinta” is expected to spawn heavy to intense rainfall within its 350-kilometer diameter, at 10-20 millimeters per hour.
Residents in low-lying and mountainous areas were alerted to possible landslides and flash floods. Travel by small fishing boats in the seaboards of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao could also be risky, Pagasa said.
Originally posted at 07:13 am | Tuesday, December 25, 2012