As a precaution, classes in all levels in Cebu City today were ordered suspended by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
Mayor Rama announced his decision last night over radio dyAB, saying the suspension extends to private and public schools.
Oscar Tabada, chief of Pagasa Mactan, said “Ofel” was a “dry cyclone” that would bring light rains in Cebu and that there was a strong likelihood it would dissipate by noon today.
The whole of Cebu and Bohol province were placed under storm signal number 2 at 11 a.m, though the rains only came at 2 p.m.
Pagasa’s announcement prompted the Cebu Coast Guard to ground passenger vessels of all sizes early yesterday.
But in Pagasa’s 5 p.m. weather bulletin only northern Cebu including Bantayan Island remained under storm signal number 2, while southern Cebu and Bohol were downgraded to storm signal number 1.
Tabada said Ofel changed its path moved faster at 22 kph from 19 kph.
“We’ll have rains and winds today until tomorrow morning. But this will only be in the wake of Ofel,” he said.
Tabada said they estimated rainfall to be between five to 20 mm per hour within the 500 km diameter of Ofel.
Ofel was headed at 70 km northwest of San Jose, Mindoro tomorrow morning and at 450 km west of Iba, Zambales later in the afternoon.
Two flights were cancelled at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) while a flight from Manila to Tacloban was diverted to Mactan.
Aside from Cebu and Bohol, signal number 2 was hoisted over Northern Negros, Masbate, Romblon, Eastern Samar, WEstern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran Island, Camotes Island, Capiz, Aklan, Boracay and Dinagat Island.
Signal number 1 is hoisted over southern Cebu, Bohol, Southern Negros, Iloilo, Antique, Northern Samar, Surigao del Norte, Siargao Island, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Burias Island, Southern Quezon, Marinduque and Oriental Mindoro, Calamian Group of Island, Batangas, Lubang Island, and Cuyo Island.
Tabada said the storm didn’t actually hit landfall in Cebu. It just passed the seawater of northern Cebu and then went to Aklan and Masbate.
Dry tropical storm
Tabada said Ofel brought more rains in the northeast than the southwest, which was why rain wasn’t immediately felt in some parts of Cebu.
He said Ofel is a type of dry tropical storm.
In Dumanjug town, Regil Sacan, 17, of barangay Cogon, was gathering seashells along the coast of barangay Tapon when strong waves washed him out on Tuesday afternoon.
SP02 Florencio Clarion of the Dumanjug police precinct said a search operation is still ongoing.
Because of bad weather, two flights of the Cebu Pacific for General Santos City and Surigao City at 10 a.m and 11:45 a.m respectively were cancelled, said Maryann Dimabayao of the MCIA’s public affairs department.
Dimabayao said some flights just experienced minor delays.
Coast Guard Central Visayas information officer Captain Anelito Gabisan said at least 1,847 passengers were stranded in Central Visayas yesterday afternoon.
Of this figure, 345 passengers were stranded in the ports of Cebu, 921 in Bohol and 581 in Dumaguete City. There were 67 vessels grounded in the region.
About 40 of them were in Cebu, 17 in Bohol and 10 in Dumaguete City.
Gene Altubar, his wife and two children who visited their elder daughter in Tabunok, Talisay City, were among those passengers who preferred to stay at the pier areas and wait until the suspension of trips were lifted.
Altubar’s family is headed to Pagadian, Zamboanga Del Sur and was supposed to take the trip to Ozamis City last Tuesday but their trip was already suspended.
“I hope we can leave tonight. It’s pretty expensive to buy food at the pier area and I have children,” Altubar said.
At the Capitol, the ebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (CPDRRM) convened to map out contingency plans.
Local government units (LGUs) were advised to give updates on their situations.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia called on local officials to coordinate with the Office of Civil Defense in preparing for their own contingency plans.
Residents of creeks and landslide prone areas were advised to relocate to safer ground.
Garcia said bulldozers and payloaders are on standby to clear rubble caused by landslides.
The CPDRRM action center at the Capitol is ready to receive reports from localities 24/7.
“All hospitals should be alerted and its personnels on standby,” the governor said.
Garcia also directed LGUs to provide rice to fishermen to discourage them from sailing.
Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Marivic Garces said no damages were reported from the provinces as of yesterday afternoon. /Jhunnex Napallacan and Fe Marie Dumaboc, Correspondents with Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol and Correspondent Norman V. Mendoza