Cebu can expect a rainy Christmas

THERE’S a possibility that Cebu will be placed under signal number 1 on Monday afternoon, Dec. 23, 2019, if the track of tropical storm Ursula will not change, according to a weather bureau Pagasa official.

Pagasa Visayas officer-in-charge Al Quiblat said Cebuanos can expect moderate to heavy rains on Dec. 25, or Christmas Day.

Based on their 4 p.m. update on Sunday, Dec. 22, the tropical storm, which will be named Ursula once it enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), was 1,200 kilometers east of Mindanao.

It packed maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour (kph) and moved 25 kph west northwest.

“It is expected to enter PAR tonight (Sunday) or tomorrow (Monday) morning and it has a chance to develop into a severe tropical storm before it will have its first landfall in Leyte and Samar areas on the night of Dec. 24,” Quiblat said. “It is possible that we could raise signal number 1 in Cebu because of its severe tropical storm category. Most likely, we could also issue a gale warning.”

Quiblat said a tropical storm is characterized by 62 to 88 kph maximum winds, while a severe tropical storm is characterized by stronger winds at 89-118 kph. Tropical depression, on one hand, is characterized by winds 61 kph and below.

He said that after making landfall in the Leyte-Samar areas, Ursula is expected to cross Cebu, particularly the northern part of the province, on Dec. 25.

“After crossing Cebu, it is expected to track Negros and northern Negros Oriental then in northern Panay. It is expected to leave the landmass of Visayas on the afternoon of Dec. 26 before it will have another landfall in northern Palawan,” he said.

Quiblat said Ursula is expected to leave the PAR by Dec. 27.

He advised the public to keep updated on Pagasa advisories for possible changes in the weather.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Central Visayas raised a blue alert status on Saturday, Dec. 21, to ensure close monitoring of Ursula and its effects in the region.

With the blue alert status in place, the regular duty detail of its personnel is temporarily suspended so they can render duty at the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council 7’s operation center.

The Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) is also conducting 24/7 monitoring.

Neil Sanchez, PDRRMO head, said they already issued an advisory to Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices (MDRRMOs) to convene their respective councils for a pre-disaster risk assessment.

“Last Friday, our alert team was already on standby for 24/7 monitoring. We are not just talking about the Ursula but also about the influx of people that go home to their respective provinces,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

He said they are scheduled to meet the alert team on Monday at 10 a.m.

“We already have the protocol and the systems in place. We just have to review. We will have a briefing with Engineer Al Quiblat of Pagasa to guide us as to the course of action. If there’s a need to conduct preventive evacuation, then automatically we will do it,” Sanchez said in a mix of Cebuano and English. (WBS)