After signal No. 4, it’s a supertyphoon

5:09 am | Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

MANILA, Philippines–The weather bureau has decided against adding a warning signal no. 5 to denote a supertyphoon to its rating of storm strengths.

Still the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) will now officially recognize as supertyphoons cyclones with maximum winds exceeding 220 kilometers per hour.

This, one year and a half after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name Haiyan) devastated Eastern Visayas with its 235-275 kph winds which made it the strongest typhoon ever to hit land.

Pagasa weather division chief Esperanza Cayanan said the bureau would keep the four-number public storm warning signals it adopted in 1997 and revised in 2010.

The storm warning signals are raised to warn the public of a coming cyclone, indicating its intensity, lead time from 36 hours to 12 hours before its effects would be felt, and its expected impact.

Signal No. 1 denotes a tropical depression with winds of from 30 to 60 kph; signal No. 2 is a tropical storm with 61 to 100 kph winds; signal No. 3 warns a typhoon is packing 101 to 185 kph winds; and signal No. 4 is raised ahead of very strong typhoons with winds over 185 kph.

“If we have a typhoon with winds over 220 kph, it will still be a signal No. 4 but we will call it a supertyphoon,” Cayanan said.

“It’s not easy to add a warning signal. The use of the term supertyphoon as a warning would already have an impact, indicating the severity of the impact,” she added.

In December, Typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit) came close to being a supertyphoon before it slammed into Eastern Visayas and southern Luzon.

Also on Monday during its 150th anniversary, Pagasa announced it would issue a color-coded storm surge warning system similar to its color-coded rainfall warning advisories.

As with the rainfall advisories, the storm surge color signals range from red indicating the highest danger and calls for evacuation; orange indicating storm storm is expected and calls on the public to be prepared to evacuate; and yellow which indicates that storm surge is possible.

Thousands of deaths

Pagasa weather division assistant chief Cecilia Monteverde said many of the thousands of deaths from Yolanda were caused by storm surge, the giant waves generated by powerful winds that slammed inland.

She acknowledged that there was “not enough understanding of what the impact of the storm surge would be.”

Cayanan said within the year, they will also issue a warning system for the impact of strong winds—whether minimal, minor, significant to severe.

Pagasa’s weather advisories are in its website and social media accounts.

Pagasa also launched a more streamlined look for its website, www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph using the government web hosting service.

Aside from the weather forecast and other services, it added a weather map that uses visual signs like the sun and clouds to give an overview of the weather throughout the country for the next five days.

Tags: Esperanza Cayanan , Pagasa , signal 4 , storm strength , supertyphoon , Weather

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