Weather bureau deliberates on daily rain forecast

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Sunday, June 26, 2011


TAGAYTAY CITY — As the typhoon season closes its first month, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said it is seriously pondering over a proposal to issue a daily rain forecast.

Rene Paciente, assistant weather services chief, said the bureau is discussing this matter, which to him would be very useful to the public and disaster officials especially during rainy months.

Large swaths of Metro Manila and nearby provinces as well as in Cotabato City were battered by floods caused by monsoon rains and Tropical Storm “Falcon” (international name: Meari), which left the country last Saturday after a five-day onslaught.

“It is still under deliberation whether to post daily rainfall forecast in our weather reports or not. We were only able to meet twice for this proposal last May. We haven’t met since then because we’re already busy monitoring the storms,” Paciente told Sun.Star at the sidelines of a media seminar on weather forecasting here.
The rainy season officially kicked off last May 27, after Typhoon “Chedeng” (international name: Songda) brought wet weather across the country.

“No meeting has been scheduled yet for the meantime. I am not also sure if this (daily rainfall forecast) will be implemented soon,” Paciente said.

He related that no meteorological agency in the world included specific rainfall estimates in their forecasts.

Normally, the weather bureaus only give a description of the rain’s intensity such as “light”, “moderate,” and “heavy.”

If the proposal succeeds, Paciente said differences in each of the scenarios should be incorporated in the weather forecast, which Pagasa issued in a six-hourly basis starting at 5 a.m.

With the help of high-precision Doppler radars, the weather official said they can provide the expected rainfall for a certain province or city as long as it is within the 450-kilometer range of the instrument.

It can also detect a possible occurrence of thunderstorms and tornadoes, like the one happened in some villages in Quezon City last Friday.

Currently, there are four state-of-art Doppler radars in the country which can be found in Baguio, Subic (Zambales), Baler (Aurora), and Hinatuan (Surigao del Norte).

By 2016, Pagasa expects 14 Doppler radars to be fully operational. These include Cebu, Tampakan (South Cotabato), Virac (Catanduanes), Guiuan (Eastern Samar), Zamboanga and Palawan.

Peak of rainfall activity

Meantime, Pagasa warned that the months of July, August and September are characterized by the peak of rainfall activity associated with the southwest monsoon (habagat) and consecutive visits of tropical cyclones.

Climate models showed that the July- August-September rainfall are likely to exhibit near normal to below normal rainfall condition in most areas of the country.

For July, most areas of the western section of Luzon, including Southern Tagalog region and western Mindanao will likely experience below normal rainfall condition.

The rest of the country is expected to have near normal rainfall values. However, heavy rainfall and strong winds that may cause flooding and landslides should not be discounted during this period.
Monsoon breaks are expected to occur during this period giving warm and sunny weather in some affected areas of the country, as the North Pacific high pressure ridge strengthens.

Weather systems likely to affect the country during the period are the intertropical convergence zone, low pressure areas, ridge of high pressure area and seven to 10 tropical cyclones.

Gradual recession of rain associated with the southwest monsoon is expected during the later part of September and the start of the transition period from the southwest monsoon to the northeast monsoon season is likely, Pagasa said. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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