PAGASA WARNS LGUS, COAST GUARD
Despite the bigger possibility that the low pressure area (LPA), which is expected become a tropical depression on January 1, 2018, will not hit Cebu, the weather bureau is still warning Cebuanos and those in Central Visayas to continue to be vigilant.
Engineer Al Quiblat, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Mactan chief, said that despite this development of the possible tropical depression having the bigger chance of passing through the Caraga region, there is still a slim chance that it may deviate from its path and hit Samar or Leyte instead.
With this slim possibility of the LPA passing through Central Visayas, Quiblat said they still coordinated with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), local government units (LGUs) to properly coordinate the needed preparations in handling these kinds of weather system if it would hit their areas.
“Naa mi text block for every forecast namo to be disseminated to the LGUs and other agencies para makabuhat silag proper actions,” said Quiblat.
The LPA, which is expected to develop to become the first tropical depression to visit in 2018, was reported to be at 850 km east of Surigao City, Surigao del Norte, as of 5 p.m. of December 31.
Quiblat said these would show that the main track of the LPA is along northern Mindanao, but its radius being at 250 km could still affect Cebu province and other parts of Central Visayas.
“But the danger is if the LPA will deviate from its path and landfall in Samar or Leyte instead, because it will directly pass across Central Visayas,” said Quiblat.
Rains in Cebu
Quiblat also clarified that regardless of the LPA to remain a tropical depression after its landfall, it would still cause rainshowers in Cebu and some parts of the Visayas when it would reach Lanao del Norte.
The LPA is expected to develop into a tropical depression anytime between January 1 and 2, and have its first landfall at the Caraga Region.
“Expected first landfall will be evening of January 1 or morning of January 2, then it will traverse through northern Mindanao,” said Quiblat.
As it develops into a tropical depression, it will course through Cagayan, Lanao del Norte before it exits at Zamboanga Peninsula on January 2 or 3.
“After mag-landfall, possibly na ma-weaken and become an LPA again, but possibly sad nga ma-retain ang status nga tropical depression,” (After its landfall, it may weaken and become an LPA again, or retain its tropical depression status.) said Quiblat.
Raising Storm Signal
Quiblat also warned that the LPA may further develop into a tropical storm on January 2 or 3 as it is expected to traverse Sulu sea and head to Palawan.
“So pwede ta nga magka-signal number 1 ana kung ma-tropical storm na ta. It is up to the coast guard kung mag-cancel sila og trips sa mga vessels,” said Quiblat.
On Sunday, trips of vessels in Cebu ports have resumed normal operations after the shipping firms resumed their operations for Ormoc-bound trips on Sunday morning.
The trips for Ormoc were cancelled on Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning because of strong waves in the Eastern Visayas sea.
Philippine Coast Guard Cebu officer Edgar Bacalso said there was no gale warning raised for Cebu on Dec. 31 despite the entry of the LPA.
Bacalso also noted lesser passengers arriving at Cebu ports as of Sunday noon.
Cebu City preps
Meanwhile, Cebu City officials had already completed preparations to handle the possible tropical depression passing through Central Visayas.
Councilor Dave Tumulak, head of the City Council’s committee on public order and safety, said the city government has already readied their heavy equipment especially in the mountain barangays to respond to any incidents.
Barangay disaster councils have also been activated to continue monitoring the weather disturbance and respond to any emergency.
“Since Thursday, the city government through the parks and playgrounds commission and VECO (Visayan Electric Company) have been going around and trimming trees in major thoroughfares and near power lines,” Tumulak said.
With the winds expected from the LPA, he said it’s important to trim the trees’ branches to prevent it from falling down and causing damage to property or to power lines which would affect the supply of electricity in residences.
Tumulak, who is also the deputy mayor on police matters, said the city’s police are also on alert in case of any emergency.
Heavy equipment from the Cebu City District Engineering Office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are also on standby already.
“We also want to remind the public that if the winds are strong, they should switch off their appliances and Christmas decors especially if there is lightning and thunder together with the rain,” he said.
In case of emergencies, the public should immediately contact the city’s command control center.
Tumulak said that he has also talked with outdoor advertising groups and requested them to roll down their outdoor tarpaulins and billboards as these may be blown over by the wind.
Manning the ER on New Year’s Day