UN hails Philippines early typhoon warning systems

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The PAGASA-DOST Weather Radar Station in Barangay Buenavista, Bato, Catanduanes. LYN RILLON/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

GENEVA—Improved early warning systems in the Philippines saved many lives as the country was ravaged by Typhoon Bopha, the United Nations office for disaster risk reduction said Wednesday.

The typhoon that slammed into the southern island of Mindanao Tuesday killed at least 274 people, while even more were reported missing, but UNISDR said the toll could have been much worse.

“This time last year, over 1,400 people died on Mindanao in a similar event, but this time big improvements in the early warning systems have saved many lives,” said Jerry Velazquez, who heads the agency’s Asia office.

About 178,000 people remained huddled in evacuation centres, mostly crowded schoolhouses, gyms and other government buildings, officials said.

In a statement, Velazquez singled out new automated rainfall and flood predictions systems, which he said had greatly improved forecasting and made it possible to more quickly alert people at risk.

The systems are part of the government’s Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) introduced earlier this year.

The project, which includes alerts through television and the Internet, “has enabled central government agencies, local governments and citizens to prepare and act before intense weather arrives,” Velazquez said.

That “is vitally important” in a country hit by around 20 typhoons each year, he said, predicting that when the NOAH project is fully rolled out by the end of next year “we should see a significant drop in the numbers of lives lost to disasters in the Philippines.”

He meanwhile called on Manila to do more to respond to the huge economic impact of the devastating storms.

“About 0.8 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) is lost each year to disasters and this takes an unacceptably high toll on the country’s development and efforts at poverty reduction,” Velazquez said.

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  • delpillar

    I don’t want to make a thermo-nuclear war here between PNOY and GMA supporters but this Doppler Radar Station was done by GMA thru then NEDA Director General Agusto Santos in November 2009. This was sealed and approved by Japanese Government upon seing the devastations brought by Typhoon ONDOY and PEPING.

    This was finished during the first/2nd quarter of PNOY’s term.

    The state-of-the art doppler radars were constructed in Virac, Catanduanes; Aparri, Cagayan; and Guiuan, Samar can observe the occurrence, movement, distribution and amount of rainfall and wind speed over a large area in real time. The JAPANESE grant aid also provided the installation of meteorological radar display system and data satellite communication system in the same areas and in Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) office in Manila.

    BUT, a big “BUT”,… Japan has similar and more sophisticated RADAR, but the Japan Weather Bureau publicly notified the Japanese People that with the STATE-OF-THE ART equipments and HIGHLY-TRAINED engineers and staff, the accuracy is 80% only. There is a probability of 20% na mali ang forecast.

    SO, these PAGASA three state-of-the-art doppler radar station, if not manned by highly-skilled staff, the accuracy will be less than the JAPAN 80% proven accuracy.

    • antonino_999

       When PAGASA (or any govt agency) asks for funding, justification for the capital outlay is given to govt officials. I presume that the proponents know the limits of the instruments but some info may have been lost in translation in the long process of acquiring the equipment. In weather forecasting, the limit of predictability is set by the nature of the atmosphere… which is chaotic. (Chaos theory of Lorenz). Numerical models are also prone to errors (round-off, truncation, numerical instability, errors in the data that are used to initialize the model, errors in the boundary conditions of the model, etc which are due to errors in the observed data from stations (which are due to human error or to the limitation of the equipment).

      Considering all these IMHO PAGASA did a commendable job.

  • pinoyusa2012

    baka kagagawan ng mga intsik

  • PH2011

    PAGASA is already doing its part.

    To provide the Filipino people more
    or less accurate forecast & warnings.

    However, there’s still a shortfall, the
    big lost of lives during typhoons can be attributed to the following;

    1.     
    Flash floods,  particularly to those people living near the
    estuaries ( e.g. CDO 2011, Ormoc -80s?)

    2.     
    Erosions/ Cave in ( e.g Compostela
    2012)

    3.     
    Fishing or sea travels at the height
    of the typhoon ( e.g MV Princes..2009?)

    The people can evade the strong wind,
    the abovementioned likewise can be easily avoided if the local government and
    other attached agencies will work hand and hand to implement the necessary warnings
    and precautions provided by PAGASA. The 3rd , (depending on the
    typhoon signal) a no-sea travel /fishing advisory should be continuously imposed
    by the coast guards/MARINA, and other attached agencies.

    While the 1st and 2nd
    , the local government involve should provide the necessary warnings,
    precaution & anticipated/force evacuations ( if necessary ) for the high
    risk areas. Well, technically people can easily identify the risk areas; cut
    and/or developed mountains utilized for property development should be properly
    monitored for possible erosions/cave-in. Residential areas with previous and/ or
    on-going Minings and  (Illegal) loggings
    activities in the vicinity are also to be considered as high risk areas. Estuaries
    are located at the mouth of the river in between seashore. Twice the country already
    experienced a flash floods tragedy (with more than a thousand deaths) in (
    Ormoc and CDO) in the same spots.

    These are all considered high risk
    area during the typhoon, anticipated or force evacuation should be implemented
    by the LGU’s/NGO/PNP, DSWD and NDCC.

    Act before the typhoon, not after
    the typhoon. Prevention is better than cure, well death has no cure. While CNN (
    not PAGASA, still a shortfall) forecasted a tragedy before the typhoon hit
    Mindanao/central Visaya, I remember the forecaster was so worried since the
    super typhoon will hit Mindanao island which is  located near the equator. A very UNUSUAL PATH,
    they saw and predicted the worst scenario, the people of Mindanao are not well
    prepared……unfortunately, we did not.

    UNLIKE earthquake,  a typhoon is forecasted days ahead by PAGASA. Twenty
    (20) average typhoons hit our country yearly. The government has ample time to
    prepare for 2013 and beyond.

     

    My heart and sympathy to the people of
    Compostela.

     

  • amelius23

    For the U.N. agency to acknowledged the improvement of the Phil. early typhoon warning system disproved the statements of the prophet of doom, Mr. Jojo Robles, whose column today at Manila Standard Today is a slap on his face. Instead of buoying the low spirits of those who had been victims of the super  typhoon “Pablo” here is supposed to be a responsible newspaper man who try to downgrade and show to the world that as if we, Filipino. are inept in facing this disaster. He failed miserably in painting a bad picture of the govt., a govt. whom he was supposed to respect as a responsible journalist, bu the nihilist character on himself showed how he despise this govt. and PNoy. Now it shows that we get more current news from Phil. Daily  Inquirer rather than from Manila Standard Today who did not pick up this dispatch by Agence France- Presse. 

  • PCD_2012

    Warning is not sufficient, the local government must have a strong POLITICAL WILL to force everyone to evacuate in higher and safer areas.  But most importantly the people must not be stubborn and must adhere to the calls for them to relocate to a much better place!

    Nowadays, Flash-Flood is a common scenario, our local governments must double its efforts in studying the areas susceptible in sudden and heavy flooding.   They must EXACTLY PINPOINT where are these areas through the help of computer aided simulations and accurate data gatherings. Their findings must be circulated to the media and through a printed map to be distributed to the local population.

    Deaths in Flash-Floods and Landslides can be prevented using advance technology, storm is a normal part of the Filipino lives but until now we are always one step behind against this weather phenomenon.

    I’m always surprised with the local politicians’ excuses that they were surprised because they didn’t expect the enormous volume of rains that the storm will bring to their area of responsibilities!  Despite the fact that the Media and the National government warned them against the huge effect that the typhoon will bring days before the impact. It only showed that they are either not treating the matter seriously or not aware of the incoming catastrophe?

    All Local Politicians must act now because next week or next month another storm will pass us by and we are fed up of too many ridiculous excuses coming from you guys!  You have time to prepare and you must start now!

  • joboni96

    mabuhay kayo

    ganda ng radar niyo
    futuristic effect
    thanks to japan jica

    continue leveraging local scientists and technologists

  • Troy Gonzales

    and yet despite this early warnings death toll still rise up to more than 300,more are missing and casualties are still undetermined. if only people will heed this warnings and evacuate before the typhoon strikes not during its wrath maybe we can avoid this catastrophe.

  • delpillar

    Ang may pinakamakasalan dito ay yung local officials, Governor and Mayor in particular.

    Sa Japan, the weather bureau announced regularly the wind velocity and the amount of rain fall.

    Based on topography and soil conditions, the mayor/governor explain the following (to all schools both elementary and Junior high shool).
    :
    1. If the rainfall is 30mm/hour, what does it mean to our village
    2. If the rainfal is 70mm/hour, what does it mean to our village.
    3. If the rainfall is 90mm/hour, what does it mean to our village.
    4. If the rainfall is 300mm overnight (6 hours) what does it mean to our village?
    5. When the siren alarm-out, what and where the people should go.
    6. The mayor/gov inform all schools and village leaders of the hazard map of the locality.

    The citizens band (UHF/VHF) should be controlled or managed by the mayor/governor.
    1. Where are those UHF/VHF radios located which act as a heartbeat of communications. Where are those 5-km radius capable VHF/UHF radios located? Where are those 25-km radius UHF/VHF located, etc. etc.
    2. With the help of the national governemnt, all cell sites in Japan, are mandated to have a back-up power that will run and take over the power supply without human intervention….. at least for 3 hours since the power outage happened. After the 3/11 earthquake, they have revised the law requiring all cell sites to have 24-hour back-up power.
    3. The government agencies has a permanent BANDWIDTH in each telecom company that will NEVER BECOME BUSY or become congested. This is to ensure that at least, there is a FUNCTIONING government channel of communications that is always FREE of INTERFERENCE and CONGESTION.

    Japan still relies on the old technology (in tandem with the latest technology) when it comes to calamity, that is using the UHF/VHF, AM/FM, SSB, Short-Wave and air-raid sirens scattered all over the archipelago installed since WW2.

  • delpillar

    IMPORTANT UPDATE:
    BE VIGILANT. Nag-semi U-turn si PABLO.. Parang liliko sya papuntang Hongkong, Taiwan or ILOCOS Norte or BATANES, BABUYAN Island…. still maintaining its strength since at Cagayan De Oro City 2 days ago.

    Dadaanan nya ang PANATAG SHOAL.
    Panatag Shoal is at 15 deg 15min 20 sec LATITUDE. and 117 deg, 46min 48 sec LONGTITUDE.

    As of 2:30PM, Dec 6 Philippine time, the eye of the storm is at:
    Latitude 12 deg 20 min
    Longtitude 116 deg 10 min
    This coordinate is about 400-km West of  CALAUIT ISLAND, Palawan

    Direction: moving NORTH  (sharply north) – at 8 km/h
    Pressure: 975 Hecto-Pascal
    Max Wind: 35 meters/sec
    Gust: 50 meters/sec

  • pepito gwaps

    To avoid big casualties from a disaster like typhoon, we need not only warning device but educate people about climate change and how to fight the impact. One is tell them that their place will become a river when the typhoon comes because they are in a flood prone areas…when you ask the victim of flash flood they will always say that ” akala ko safe yong lugar namin.”

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