'Amang' may intensify into storm but landfall now unlikely
Louis Bacani (The Philippine Star) - January 14, 2015 - 11:55am

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED 11:30 a.m.) - Here's an answered prayer for those raring to see Pope Francis.

There is now a low chance that approaching Tropical Depression "Amang" will make landfall though it is still expected to affect Luzon and Visayas during the visit of Pope Francis this weekend, the state weather bureau said before Wednesday noon.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said in a 10 a.m. weather advisory that the tropical depression was last located at 1,560 kilometers east of northern Mindanao, packing maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center.

Amang is forecast to move west-northwest at 19 kph and is expected to intensify into a tropical storm before entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility by Thursday morning.

PAGASA said Amang is still too far to affect any part of the country.

"It is predicted to weaken as it approaches the eastern seaboard with low possibility of making landfall," the weather bureau said.

In a phone-patch interview with ANC, PAGASA forecaster Alvin Pura said Amang will be near Northern Luzon by Monday, recurving toward Japan.

"Sa ngayon, most probable yung ating recurvature na scenario," he said.

Eastern Visayas, Luzon still affected

Pura said Amang will be near Eastern Visayas and the Bicol region by the weekend or when Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Manila and Leyte province.

Even if it is no longer expected to directly hit the Philippine landmass, Pura said the cyclone's outer perimeter rainband would still not spare Tacloban City.

And by the time Amang approaches the Bicol region, it would also be affecting Central Luzon and Metro Manila.

PAGASA earlier said Amang has a big chance of hitting landmass, noting that cyclones that enter the country during this time of the year are "landfalling."

But the agency said the prevailing northeast monsoon or the cold and dry air from China and Siberia could affect the weather disturbance’s movement and intensification.

US forecast

Meanwhile, the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center still sees Amang directly hitting the Philippines and not recurving toward Japan.

Based on its latest forecast, Amang will be in the vicinities of Eastern Visayas and Bicol region over the weekend.

Pope Francis is expected to be in Tacloban City and Palo in Leyte on Saturday to meet some families affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

He will be back in Manila by Sunday to officiate a holy mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta.

ALVIN PURA AMANG CENTRAL LUZON AND METRO MANILA CHINA AND SIBERIA EASTERN VISAYAS EASTERN VISAYAS AND BICOL EASTERN VISAYAS AND THE BICOL GEOPHYSICAL AND ASTRONOMICAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION POPE FRANCIS
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