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MANILA, Philippines – The low pressure area (LPA) off Mindanao intensified into a tropical depression on Monday afternoon, January 1, the country’s first tropical cyclone for 2018. It has been given the local name Agaton.
In a bulletin issued past 5 pm on New Year’s Day, state weather bureau PAGASA said Agaton is already 175 kilometers east northeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, moving west at 19 kilometers per hour (km/h).
The tropical depression has maximum winds of 45 km/h and gustiness of up to 60 km/h. (READ: EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form)
Signal number 1 is raised over:
- Southern Leyte
- Surigao del Norte including Siargao Island
- Surigao del Sur
- Dinagat Islands
- Agusan del Norte
- Agusan del Sur
- Davao Oriental
- Davao del Norte
- Davao del Sur
- North Cotabato
- Compostela Valley
- Misamis Oriental
- Misamis Occidental
- Lanao del Norte
- Lanao del Sur
Agaton could make landfall in Caraga either Monday night or Tuesday morning, January 2.
After making landfall, it will then cross Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, and southern Palawan – similar to the track of 2017’s last tropical cyclone, the deadly Typhoon Vinta (Tembin).
“[The rainfall is] a bit less than Vinta pero huwag tayong kampante (but we should not be complacent),” said PAGASA Weather Division chief Esperanza Cayanan in a news briefing late Monday afternoon.
PAGASA also warned that residents of Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Caraga, and Davao should be on alert for possible flash floods and landslides. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)
Sea travel is risky in areas under signal number 1 as well as the seaboards of Northern Luzon and Southern Luzon, eastern seaboard of Central Luzon, and eastern and western seaboard of the Visayas due to the surge of the northeast monsoon.
Based on its latest forecast track, Agaton will leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Thursday, January 4.
Mindanao is still reeling from Vinta, which hit land just a few days before Christmas 2017 as a severe tropical storm. It left at least 240 people dead.
Vinta also came on the heels of Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak), which battered Eastern Visayas and killed 47 people. Urduja also left P2.172 billion in damage to agriculture and infrastructure. – Rappler.com
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