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Metro

Pagasa's 7 Doppler radars operational by mid-2011

- Rainier Allan Ronda -

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) will have seven operating state-of-the-art Doppler radars by June this year – enough to give the most accurate, detailed and updated weather reports in time for the opening of the next school year, according to an official of the Department of Science and Technology.

Undersecretary Graciano Yumul told educators gathered in the recent 171st general assembly of the Foundation for Upgrading the Standard of Education in Manila that the Doppler radars can help them track storms entering the country’s area of responsibility at every hour.

“Every time there will be storm (alerts), we can now track the typhoon every hour and more accurately (because of the Doppler radars),” he said.

Pagasa has been criticized for its failure to give detailed weather information, including intensity of winds and volume of rainfall, making it difficult for the public to prepare and make evacuation plans in recent years.

Unreliable weather information from Pagasa has also been an added frustration especially for school heads and the Department of Education since they rely on it to decide on whether to suspend classes during inclement weather.

Pagasa blamed the lack of sophisticated weather forecasting equipment like Doppler radars for its woes.

Yumul said the seven Doppler radars are located in Baguio City, Baler, Aurora; Subic, Zambales; Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur; Tagaytay City; Mactan City, Cebu, and Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Three existing radars – located in Virac, Catanduanes; Guian, Samar, and Aparri, Cagayan – are also being rehabilitated using funds donated by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and will be operational by 2013.

A Doppler radar, which is made to order, costs P100 million and takes 18 months to manufacture. The cost includes the construction of a facility that will house the radar and access road to the facility.

Yumul said the seven Doppler radars will become operational just as the country is expected to be hit by stronger and more frequent typhoons this year as well as prolonged rains due to the La Niña phenomenon.

He said the seven Doppler radars would give the country the capability to put up its own weather channel, similar to Japan’s NHK, which issues weather reports every hour.

What is being decided, Yumul said, is whether the proposed weather channel will be private sector-led, “which would make it extremely efficient,” or a government channel like NBN 4.

“In Japan anytime there is a weather disturbance, everybody is focused on no other channel except NHK. And NHK is NBN 4 in the Philippines but apparently Filipinos never watch Channel 4. So that’s the problem right now,” Yumul said.

Doppler radars can predict typhoon movements more accurately and provide a visual on thunderstorm conditions, including the possibility of tornadoes.

The Doppler radar has four major components – a radar system, a data display system, a satellite communications system, a Very Small Aperture Terminal and a radar building.

The current weather monitoring system on which Metro Manila depends is not capable of calculating the rate of rainfall in millimeter per hour, and warning signals for the metropolis come from a weather satellite receiving system that is limited to making only “indicative predictions.”

A DOPPLER

BAGUIO CITY

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

DOPPLER

GEOPHYSICAL AND ASTRONOMICAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION

IN JAPAN

PAGASA

RADARS

WEATHER

YUMUL

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