ALTHOUGH tropical storm Auring’s intensity has weakened, state weather officials urged the public to remain on heightened alert as it could bring moderate to heavy rains once it traverses the Visayas on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021.
Auring is still expected to bring 50 to 100 millimeters of rainfall in Cebu and other parts of the Visayas over the weekend, Al Quiblat, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa)-Mactan weather bureau chief, said.
According to Pagasa’s 3 p.m. weather bulletin on Saturday, Feb. 20, Auring’s center was estimated to be 490 kilometers east southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur with maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph. It is moving northwest at 15 kph.
Quiblat said one of the possible scenarios is that the storm will make landfall Sunday afternoon or night in Eastern Mindanao, particularly in the Caraga Region.
“Our main track, based on the latest official forecast of the Pag-asa at 11 a.m., once the storm passes through Caraga, it will make another landfall in Southern Leyte, and the eye of the storm will be in the northern portion of Cebu on Sunday evening to Monday morning,” he said.
Quiblat said there is also the possibility that Auring will lose its strength and be downgraded to a tropical depression before it makes landfall.
“Once it reaches Cebu, it is possible that it will turn into a low pressure area. Another scenario we are looking at is that Auring may still deviate from its main track and will go to Samar area,” he said.
Quiblat said that Auring may also affect the southern part of Cebu.
Moderate to heavy rainfall
He said Central Visayas may experience light to moderate and sometimes heavy rains on Saturday night until Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon until night, moderate to heavy rains and intense rainfall may be expected in the region.
Quiblat said Central Visayas may experience cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorm. The public is advised to brace for possible flash floods or landslides.
In Cebu, the Capitol put the entire province on red alert.
Disaster personnel and emergency and rescue teams in local government units (LGUs) under the Province’s jurisdiction are on stand-by.
Aside from local emergency responders, the Province deployed 13 uniformed personnel and military reservists to Tuburan and Asturias towns, which have areas that are prone to flooding and landslides.
In Danao City, officials evacuated 62 families in Sitio Isla Verde in the island barangay of Dunggoan to a nearby elementary school.
Sta. Fe officials in Bantayan Island prepared food packs for residents who may be affected by the storm.
Talisay City officials ordered the temporary closure of the Talisay-Toledo Access Road that leads to the city’s mountain barangays as heavy rains could trigger landslides there.
The Badian Municipal Government temporarily halted tourism activities.
In Mandaue City, Buddy Alain Ybañez of the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office said they already assembled representatives from the Mandaue City Police Office, Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of General and Services, City Health Office and City Social Welfare and Services.
Some of them will report to the City Command Center, while others have opted to stay in their offices, said Ybañez.
He reminded the public about the importance of being prepared.
He said they’ve received requests from residents to trim trees in preparation for the storm.
The city’s 27 barangays already identified evacuation sites.
Ybañez said they’ve coordinated with the head of the City’s contact tracing team to assist in making sure everyone observes health protocols in case they need to conduct preemptive evacuation.
Police personnel in Central Visayas are also on alert and on standby.
Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo, Police Regional Office 7 director, ordered his personnel to prepare their search and rescue equipment.
Cebu Provincial Police Office Director Col. Aladdin Collado said most of the towns have been alerted.
He said they will continue to inspect disaster-prone areas to ensure everyone’s safety.
Collado said they’ve warned residents in coastal barangays to be wary of monsoon waves.
He said they will coordinate with the LGUs’ Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office if there’s a need for evacuation.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau 7, for its part, reminded LGUs to use their geohazard maps in their preparation against tropical storm Auring.
In a statement issued on Saturday, MGB 7 acting director Armando Malicse said the geohazard maps can help identify areas that are considered flood- and landslide-prone.
The geohazard maps will be of great useful since Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 1 has been raised in most areas in the Visayas, Malicse said.
He urged residents of high-risk areas such as coastlines, riverbanks and steep slopes to follow advisories on preemptive evacuation from their LGUs to avoid any casualties or injuries.
“Our ultimate goal is zero casualty,” Malicse said.
Meanwhile, Coast Guard Station Central Cebu acting commander Alvin Dagalea said all their quick response teams and substations are prepared to aid LGUs for any possible situations brought by Auring.
He also assured that they already coordinated with coastal barangays to monitor fishing boats and other vessels in their areas of jurisdiction.
Around 304 passengers were stranded in Cebu ports as trips to Bantayan Island, Camotes Island, Carnaza Island and Negros Oriental were canceled when Central Visayas was placed under Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 1. (JOB, ANV, KFD, AYB, JKV)