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Opinion

Canary in a coal mine

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez -

Ever since storm Ondoy, I have learned to look at weather internet sites. Aside from our very own Pagasa, there are a number of weather sites on the internet, each with its own style of presenting weather patterns and disturbances all over the world. They’re actually interesting, especially after the pounding the country has received from two very strong typhoons.

From one site, you can monitor any storm that starts to form way out in the Pacific Ocean. Its path is then recorded, and forecasts are made based on available data base and known weather patterns and behavior.

In short, there really is no reason not be prepared for one, at least in knowing that a typhoon is approaching. If only Pagasa had Doppler radar to measure a rain-heavy typhoon like Ondoy. Wind is easily measured from the spinning of the cyclone.

We have the misfortune of being the first country to be hit by the storms that are born out in the Pacific Ocean. More often than not, storms make a beeline for the Philippines. And as they do, they gain strength! By landfall the storm will be at its most powerful. And as it wreaks havoc on our lands, it starts to weaken.

As it exits the country, it may well have dissipated or weakened to a tropical depression. There are times it recharges and heads towards the countries of Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar, but in a much weakened state, thanks to us!

In effect, we’ve become the canary in a coal mine, wherein anything that happens to the canary will in time happen to the miners as well. Those countries have much more time to prepare, and already know the strengths of the typhoon. How fortunate for them that we get hit first!

Still, we have to bring our weather forecasting equipment up to today’s technology. According to Pagasa, they have requested for Doppler radars five years ago, and that funding for them only came in on June 2008. We have other Doppler radars but they are deployed elsewhere where it can’t do any good to Metro Manila.

A Doppler radar will be installed in Subic Bay by the end of the year. Had they been installed before Ondoy hit, lesser lives would have been lost, and damage caused by floods could have been minimized.

True to our form, it is always too late. We need a canary to warn us ahead of time regarding a typhoon’s volume. And hopefully, Doppler radar will do the trick.

A DOPPLER

DOPPLER

METRO MANILA

ONDOY

PACIFIC OCEAN

PAGASA

SUBIC BAY

THAILAND AND MYANMAR

TYPHOON

WEATHER

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