Negros Occidental may go on blue alert tomorrow as tropical depression “Auring” has intensified into a storm, Zeaphard Caelian, Provincial Disaster Management Program Division head, said today, February 18.
The Bacolod City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (DRRMC) also activated its command center today in preparation for the storm.
“Auring” intensified into a tropical storm at 8 a.m. today and may intensify into a severe tropical storm before landfall over Caraga on Saturday evening or Sunday morning,” the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) reported.
Caelian said Auring’s track yesterday showed that it would hit central Negros but today it appears to be headed towards the northern part of the province.
“Let us continue to pray that it spares Negros,” he said.
“Auring” is moving slowly over the Philippine sea and is now likely to hit Negros Occidental on Tuesday or Wednesday, instead of Sunday or Monday, Caelian added.
If the topical storm’s movement slows down over water it could gather strength, Caelian said.
Personnel of DRRMCs in northern Negros Occidental are keeping a close watch on rain accumulation that could trigger floods, he said.
“We are now concentrating on northern Negros,” he said
Mayor Richard Jaojoco said the Toboso municipal government will distribute food packs on Saturday to all Toboseños residing in areas identified by the local DRRMC as prone to flooding.
“This is in preparation for the upcoming typhoon,” he said
Negros Occidental is currently under heightened alert for “Auring” but this could be raised to a blue alert tomorrow if its track continues to indicate that it will hit northern Negros, Caelian said.
A “blue alert” means all city and town Emergency Operations Centers will be on alert 24/7 with personnel from national government agencies, such as the police, providing additional support, he added.
IN BACOLOD CITY
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia also directed Executive Assistant Jose Ma. Vargas to convene the City DRRMC today to prepare for “Auring.”
“We are very cautious of flood-prone areas such as those in Barangay 2, 8, 10, 16, Bata, Banago, Pahanocoy, and Villamonte,” Vargas said.
The city DRRMC has set up a Command Center at the Annex Building of the Bacolod City Government Center.
“All the reports will be conveyed at the Command Center and the response teams will also be stationed there,” Vargas said.
Vargas assured the public that the city’s emergency response system is ready and advised everyone to contact barangay officials or the police in case of an emergency.
The CDRRMO-Emergency Medical Service (EMS) landline is (034) 432-3871 to 73 and its mobile phone numbers are 0908-6499849 or 0930-2434706.
PAGASA today said there is an increasing likelihood of heavy rainfall affecting Visayas, Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Bicol Region, CALABARZON, Davao Oriental, Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Mindoro Provinces, Marinduque, Romblon, Northern Palawan including Calamian and Cuyo Islands over the weekend through Monday.
Residents and all disaster risk reduction and management offices concerned, especially those situated in areas identified in hazard maps to be highly or very highly susceptible to flooding and rain-induced landslides, are advised to take appropriate preparatory measures, it added.
In the next 24 hours, rough to very rough seas (2.8 to 5.0 m) will be experienced over the seaboards of Northern Luzon and the eastern seaboards of Central and Southern Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao due to the surge of the Northeast Monsoon and “Auring.” Sea travel is risky over these areas, especially for mariners of small seacrafts, PAGASA said.
At 10 a.m. today, the center of tropical storm “Auring” was estimated at 685 km East Southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, it said.
“Auring” had maximum sustained winds of 65 km/h near the center and gustiness of up to 80 km/h, it added.*