Tropical Depression Samuel approaches Leyte Gulf

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MANILA, Philippines – Tropical Depression Samuel was approaching the Leyte Gulf late Tuesday afternoon, November 20, ahead of its expected landfall in the evening.

In a bulletin issued 5 pm on Tuesday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Samuel is already 250 kilometers east of Maasin City, Southern Leyte, or 165 kilometers east southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

The tropical depression is still moving west northwest at 20 kilometers per hour (km/h).

It is expected to make landfall "in the area between the southern portion of Eastern Samar and Dinagat Islands" on Tuesday evening.

But PAGASA Weather Specialist Aldczar Aurelio said the exact time of landfall remains unclear, since Samuel is moving slowly and, unlike a typhoon, does not have a clear eye or center.

Samuel has maintained its strength, with maximum winds of 55 km/h and gustiness of up to 65 km/h. Though it has not yet intensified into a tropical storm, it still poses a threat to parts of the country.

Signal No. 1 remains raised in:

PAGASA also warned that moderate to heavy rain may trigger flash floods and landslides in the Visayas, Bicol, Mimaropa, Dinagat Islands, and Siargao Island.

Residents of those areas should be on alert, especially if they live near rivers, in low-lying communities, or in mountainous regions. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Fishermen and others with small sea vessels are also advised not to set sail in areas under Signal No. 1 and in the northern and eastern seaboards of Luzon.

A gale warning was issued at 5 pm on Tuesday for Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, the eastern coast of Albay, the eastern coast of Sorsogon, the eastern coast of Quezon including Polillo Island, Batanes, Calayan, Babuyan, Cagayan, Isabela, the northern coast of Ilocos Norte, and Aurora.

Seas off those areas are rough to very rough, with wave heights reaching 2.6 meters to 4.5 meters.

If Samuel maintains its speed, it would exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Thursday afternoon or evening, November 22.

Samuel is the Philippines' 19th tropical cyclone for 2018. The country usually gets an average of 20 tropical cyclones per year. (READ: LIST: PAGASA's names for tropical cyclones in 2018)

Forecast track of Tropical Depression Samuel as of November 20, 2018, 5 pm. Image from PAGASA

Forecast track of Tropical Depression Samuel as of November 20, 2018, 5 pm.

Image from PAGASA

Meanwhile, the northeast monsoon or hanging amihan will still bring isolated light rains to the Ilocos Region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, and Central Luzon on Wednesday, November 21. But PAGASA said there will be "no significant impact."

Metro Manila and the rest of the country not affected by either Samuel or the northeast monsoon will only have localized thunderstorms on Wednesday. But flash floods and landslides are possible if the thunderstorms become severe.

PAGASA declared the start of the rainy season last June 8. – Rappler.com