Pagasa official predicts fewer typhoons this year

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Friday, February 28, 2014


WHILE the recent movement of typhoons in the country can still be considered normal for their standards, a weather official noticed changes when it comes to their frequency.

Al Quiblat, acting chief meteorological officer of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Mactan, told reporters yesterday that after the last typhoon hit the country, they plan to implement changes in their forecast, including adding a storm surge warning if necessary.

Quiblat was one of the speakers of a seminar on “Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation.”

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He cited the case of Mindanao, which has been struck by three typhoons (Sendong, Pablo and Agaton) in the last three years. The island used to experience one typhoon in a 30-year period.

Varying frequency

He said the frequency of typhoons varies every year. Sometimes, it’s active, or more than the normal number of 18 incidents, or inactive, or fewer than that number.

Quiblat said he has a gut feeling this year might be an inactive year since last year the country was struck by 25 typhoons, including super typhoon Yolanda.

In 2009, the country was hit by 21 typhoons; in 2010, 10 typhoons; in 2011, 19 typhoons; and in 2012, 17 typhoons.

With three to four typhoons expected to enter the second quarter of this year, Quiblat said Pagasa has plans to include a comprehensive storm surge warning in its hourly forecast.

After super typhoon Yolanda, Project Noah of the Department of Science and Technology started conducting a storm surge survey.

No shift, yet

Quiblat said the survey is part of the National Government’s plan to create a comprehensive mapping system that will identify storm surge-prone
areas in different parts of the country.

Quiblat said they hope the system will be set before the end of this year so it can be used in forecasts.

However, he said the agency does not plan on shifting to a “new normal” when it comes to predicting weather changes.

Quiblat said the shift to a “new normal” happens after a 30-year period. The last period covered the years between 1981 and 2010.

Despite calls from other sectors to change the “new normal” after Yolanda, Quiblat said Pagasa needs to conduct more studies.

“Though there are slight deviations from the normal, we can’t change the normal yet,” he said.(JKV)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 28, 2014.

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