By Lloyd Caliwan
Tropical storm Ofel has slightly accelerated and is now passing through Leyte, bringing to 35 the number of areas under storm warning signal, the state weather bureau said.
Weather Forecaster Gladys Saludes said as of 4 p.m. Wednesday the eye of Ofel was near Ormoc City in Leyte (11.0 °N, 124.6 °E) with maximum sustained winds of 65 kms per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph.
Saludes said Ofel, which had made landfall in Surigao Island, increased its speed from 19 kph to 22 kph as it continued to move west northwest.
Weather said if Ofel would not change its speed and direction, it would be out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility by Saturday.
Saludes said Masbate, Romblon, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran Island, Camotes Island, Capiz, Aklan, Boracay Island, Northern Cebu, Bantayan Island, Northern Negros and Dinagat Island were placed under storm signal no. 2.
These areas are expected to experience 61 to 100 kms per hour winds within the next 24 hours.
Storm signal No. 1 (30-60 kph winds) is hoisted over Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Burias Island, Southern Quezon, Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Calamian Group of Island, Batangas, Lubang Island, Cuyo Island, Northern Samar, Antique, Iloilo, Southern Negros, Southern Cebu, Bohol, Surigao del Norte and Siargao Island.
Residents in low lying and mountainous areas under public storm warning signal 2 and 1 are alerted against possible flash floods and landslides.
Likewise, those living in coastal areas under public storm warning signal 2 are alerted against big waves or storm surges.
Saludes said cloudy skies with occasional moderate to heavy rains are expected over Visayas, Mindanao, Metro Manila, Palawan and the rest of Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), and the rest of Central Luzon due to the effects of the tropical storm.
The rest of Luzon will have occasional light to moderate rainshowers due to localized thunderstorms, she said.
Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said those areas within its 450-km diameter are expected to experience rainfall of 5 to 20 millimeters per hour, classified as “moderate to intense.”
The weather agency said Ofel is expected to be at 70 km Northwest of San Jose, Mindoro by Thursday afternoon and by Friday morning at 450 km West of Iba, Zambales.