Urduja weakens into tropical depression

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MANILA, Philippines – Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak) weakened into a tropical depression early Sunday morning, December 17, as it moved to the Samar Sea between Bicol and Eastern Visayas.

Urduja has left at least 3 people dead and 6 others missing, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). It had made landfall in San Policarpo, Eastern Samar early Saturday afternoon, December 16.

In a bulletin issued 8 am on Sunday, state weather bureau PAGASA said Urduja is already 50 kilometers southwest of Catarman, Northern Samar, moving west at a slightly faster 15 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 13 km/h.

The tropical depression now has maximum winds of 60 km/h from the previous 65 km/h and gustiness of up to 90 km/h from the previous 110 km/h. (READ: EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form)

There are no more areas under signal number 2, while signal number 1 is raised in:

"Kahit humina 'yung bagyo, 'yung pag-ulan nandiyan pa rin (Even though the tropical cyclone has weakened, there will still be rains)," warned PAGASA forecaster Aldczar Aurelio in a news briefing past 8 am on Sunday.

"Andiyan 'yung banta ng pagbaha dahil alam po natin saturated na 'yung lupa sa Visayas (The threat of flooding also remains because the soil in the Visayas is already saturated)," he added.

PAGASA said residents of provinces in the tropical depression's path "must undertake appropriate measures against flooding and landslides and coordinate with their respective local government and disaster risk reduction and management offices." (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Below are the top 5 areas which received the most rainfall in terms of millimeters (mm) on Friday, December 15.

In a 24-hour period that began last Thursday, December 14, Guiuan had received nearly two months' worth of rainfall in just one day, making it the hardest-hit overall, so far.

Meanwhile, sea travel remains risky in seaboards of areas under signal number 1. Thousands of passengers have been stranded at various ports.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) earlier activated the government's national disaster response operation.

The DSWD said on Sunday that around 221,386 persons or 50,653 families across 4 regions are affected. (READ: #ReliefPH: Help victims of Urduja)

Based on its latest forecast track, Urduja will leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Wednesday, December 20.

Forecast track of Tropical Depression Urduja as of December 17, 8 am. Image courtesy of PAGASA

Forecast track of Tropical Depression Urduja as of December 17, 8 am.

Image courtesy of PAGASA

Aside from Urduja, PAGASA is also monitoring a tropical depression located 1,990 kilometers east of Mindanao, still outside PAR. It has maximum winds of 40 km/h and gustiness of up to 50 km/h.

The tropical depression will be given the local name Vinta once it enters PAR either on Wednesday or Thursday, December 21. – Rappler.com