MANILA, Philippines--The country experiences its first storm for the year barely a week into 2009 with tropical depression "Auring" but the state weather bureau will not be raising a high storm signal as it is expecting a "weak storm."
"It's a weak storm," said Dr. Prisco Nilo, director of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), in describing "Auring."
"Auring" packed maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center and was threatening Eastern Visayas and parts of northeast Mindanao earlier Saturday.
But as of 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nilo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone the storm had changed its path and was moving away from the region toward the north at 7 kph.
"It will no longer cross the Visayas," the PAGASA chief said.
However, Prisco added, Pagasa would continue to monitor the storm's movements.
Nilo said there could be "19 or less" storms to hit the Philippines in 2009.
In 2008, the country experienced 21 weather disturbances, the strongest of which was "Typhoon Frank" that caused the sinking of the M/V Princess of the Stars and left more than 800 people dead.
Nilo and PAGASA weather bureau chief Nathaniel Cruz were haled to court by Sulpicio Lines, owner of Princess of the Stars, after PAGASA allegedly failed to properly inform ships and other sea vessels of the weather condition last June but the court dismissed the case.
In PAGASA's 4:30 p.m. bulletin, "Auring" was detected at 80 km southeast of Guiuan in Eastern Samar.
Only Eastern Samar was placed under Storm Signal No. 1 but Nilo said northeast Mindanao and the Bicol region were expected to have light rains.
The storm would be barely felt in Metro Manila. The capital will only experience partly cloudy skies with occasional rainshowers.
PAGASA said that "Auring" was forecast to be at 150 kms northeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar or 200 kms east southeast of Catarman, Northern Samar on Monday and at 300 kms northeast of Catarman, Northern Samar by Tuesday.
By Wednesday afternoon, "Auring" is expected to be at 420 kms east northeast of Virac, Catanduanes.
Nilo said the storm contributed to the cold weather the past days because of the northeast monsoon (also known as the "Amihan").