PAGASA: Brace for Milenyo-type typhoons this year
MANILA, Philippines -- Nearly a year after the disastrous typhoons "Milenyo" (international codename: Xangsane) and "Reming" (Durian), expect storms as strong to hit the country this year.
Martin Rellin Jr., acting director of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAGASA), said on Wednesday a typhoon with the strength of "Milenyo" would likely strike anytime soon.
"The Philippines is one big laboratory of tropical cyclones. Around 20 tropical cyclones hit us each year, so there is a possibility of another 'Milenyo.' We should just prepare for the worst," said Rellin at the Meet the Press forum in Manila.
"Milenyo" wreaked havoc on September 28, 2006, with Bicol as the hardest-hit region. The typhoon's powerful winds toppled billboards and caused power outages, while severe flooding was experienced at the same time.
Typhoon Reming followed at the end of November, 2006, triggering mudflows from the slopes of Mayon Volcano that buried an entire village. Hundreds of people were missing.
"Disaster preparedness should be constant because the Philippines is facing the Pacific Ocean. We are the breakwater of Asia, dumadaan talaga sa atin ang bagyo. Kaya huwag natin balewalain ito [typhoons pass through our country. We should not take them for granted]," Rellin said.
The PAGASA acting director said they felt "hurt" when they were assailed for inaccurate forecasts but said they "understood" the criticisms.
"Nasaktan po kami, kasi 24/7 ito [We were hurt because this is 24/7 job]... This is not an accurate science. We have a 90 percent accuracy when it comes to track and intensity but we're having difficulty on rainfall," he said.
To address this, Rillen said they were purchasing new doppler equipment to measure rainfall but claimed that the bidding process had caused a two-year delay.
"It's not off-the-shelf equipment, it has to be customized. But after the bidding [at the Department of Budget and Management], it will take eight months to manufacture, another eight months to ship, but only one month to install," he said.
To improve forecasting, fellow guest Metro Manila Development Authority chair Bayani Fernando gave an unsolicited advice to the weather chief: to release hourly predictions so mistakes could be corrected immediately.
But Rellin answered that it could not be done because valuable data from other countries was only given every three hours for analysis.
But according to him, the PAGASA staff are undergoing workshops to help improve interpretation of data from radars.
"We're doing our best to develop our people, aside from upgrading our equipment," he said.
Originally posted at 05:22 pm
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