By: Weatherguy Adonis
Floods Aren’t Usually Caused By “Supers”
Iloilo City, Philippines, 03 July 2012, (1630Z)–Super Typhoons are not the most dangerous when it comes to catastrophic flooding potential in the Philippines and that’s a fact. Neither do I have to reiterate over and over again the mistakes of the past storms that has wreaked havoc to countless of lives, billions upon billions worth of property and infrastructure destroyed in a snap! Who could ever forget the devastation this country has been reeling with since the epic “SENDONG,” internationally known as “Washi,” incident that unleashed torrents of flood waters in Mindanao recently in December of 2011? The “ONDOY” tragedy, dubbed as “Ketsana” in September 2009? The massive death and destruction wrought by “URING,” known as “Thelma,” which decimated Ormoc City, Southern Leyte in November of 1991 that has resulted to 8000++ lives lost in the deluge of mud and debris raining upon the unsuspecting citizens deep into their sleep? What’s common in them??? One has to ask these reverberating and painful questions a millionth time. How miserable can we be when our supposedly on guard, dedicated people in this country’s disaster management fell deep into their sleep while the rest of us lay unaware of the impending wrath of nature? For how long can we be powerless against Mother Nature? When do we consider ourselves ever ready in the light of more Typhoons, floods and cataclysmic natural disasters? The answer lies in our hands as a people.
What seemed wrong
We seemed to forget the lessons of the past–complacent as always that these catastrophes don’t hit us repeatedly in a lifetime, yet we are always proven wrong! The answer lies at the back of our minds we simply ignore it. What’s common in them are not their immense strength and tenacity but their weakness. Pound-for-pound, Tropical Storms and Tropical Depressions are no match with the “Supers,” of Typhoons and yet they cause more intense rainfall in a longer duration, worse if they move very slow and spawn humongous amounts of rainfall in any given time, not with wind acceleration and mind-boggling intensity but raw power of water. The weaker their circulation, all the more dangerous they have become, the more unstable they are lest predictable in my personal account.
History has taught us these, and conscience more than conviction dictate that we should all the more be concerned of slow moving, yet tenacious Tropical systems, need not be huge ones, a grey area of concern not taking into account their flood-potential and hidden dangers is what makes them lethal of all forms. They come from all shapes and sizes, yet they produce one same end result–death and destruction, woe for the country’s struggling industries, major debacle of economic prosperity. It is the exaction of our society and how frail and delicate these balances our posture in the region. Preparing for Typhoons, floods, landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, severe weather and so on have dire impacts to the economy should be our primordial duty as a nation. Fortifying our defenses are supposed to be priority number one–aren’t we supposed to prevent it from happening? Can we not manage to make our industries and society “Weather-proof,” if not “Fool-proof???”
Lack of skill, understanding and history of wrong
Mainstream media on the other hand plays a vital role in rolling out “Informative, accurate and dependable,” forecasts for we are drawn into believing that the members of the fourth estate are the “Beacon,” not the “Bacon,” of truth served on the table–lest they must be more prudent in generating their own interpretation of what’s to come now and tomorrow. Just hours earlier I have been witnessing a brazened blasphemy of forecasts arrivals in TV Patrol Wx segment presented by Kim Atienza, wherein he downplayed that Tropical Disturbance “96W,” was already located in Southern Luzon–wow! I am in no doubt expressly devastated since I have been checking the system for the day and in my presumptions, it was about 259 km East-southeast of Tabaco City, Albay, with a central pressure of 1007 hPa, and falling, heading Westerly at dead in the water speed of 12 km/hr, and top winds near 40 km/hr closest to its ill-defined LLCC. So question, how in the world did ABS-CBN Wx Central’s presumption of such? Sadly in a wrong and major way. I just hope the network wars don’t take its toll on the viewers and don’t take the presentation seriously.
It is just one of the many horrendous mistakes that plague the industry despite the advancement in technology. We will never know how they are an epic failure. When credibility hangs in the balance, a better way of explaining this may not be the best option but regaining the people’s trust in the forecast may be recovered by effecting necessary corrective means in the preceding reportage. If this would be the criteria for the country in order to save more Juan dela Cruz, well it’s never late to start!
What strikes me to the core is the great misconception on repetitive errors made by no less but the country’s state weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Typhoon “Frank,” dubbed “Fengshen” of June 2008 that has virtually obliterated normalcy across much of the Visayas, to include Iloilo City and Province. Historic floods inundate town after town, sweeping livelihood and houses into swelling rivers and erasing the very lives of the innocent, unsuspecting citizenry, and worse, the sinking of the ill-fated M/V Princess of the Stars of Sulpicio Lines Corporation off Sibuyan Sea that has claimed more than 800 people, where most were never recovered to this day. May their demise become a manifestation of maritime safety and responsible people in the government in order to avoid similar incidents at sea. This is what reminds me of the month of June of every year. What greatness the technological advancement in the agency if they have been failing to adequately issue the general public of an impending “Weather-induced tragedy?” a “Fortuitous event,” an “Act of God???” and so does mankind has nothing to do with the mishaps. A vacuum that has to be filled, a work in progress I suppose should fit in.
Live reportage from Tabaco City
Our fellow American contributor from Tabaco City, Albay (13.3N-123.85E) in the person of David Matthews have been reporting since 02 July 2012 at 1330Z (0930PM-PHL), that his weather station has been recording 7-8 mm/hr rainfall and since on the 1st of July, it has accumulated some 37.7 mm already, central pressure dropped to 1005.3 hPa and falling, reaching 1005 hPa before 1500Z (11PM-PHL). In line of this, he was asking me of the exact location of Tropical Disturbance “96W,” just in case it hits them. So I replied with 13.3N-124.8E, approximately 103 km East-southeast of Tabaco City, Albay, winds reaching 40 km/hr, heading West@12 km/hr slowly, 1004 hPa, which now confirms that his AWS was not having an erroneous reading. I’ll be checking on him in the morning as the world wakes up in the WestPac! I sure was very glad having people who are mostly dedicating their lives in such vocation, helping out the way they could to save others.
A promise made, yet to be realized
People are misled by their lack of understanding on how Tropical Cyclones could have great implications on their lives and how they manifest their extreme characteristics. They tend to categorize such dangerous potential to their way of life as PAGASA issues its Public Storm Warning Signals number 1, 2, 3 and 4 for the most extreme of circumstance. They have not recognized that the worst thing that could happen in a storm is beyond wind alone, it’s water that assumes the majority of the deaths combined, in other words, drowning is highly accountable to most of deaths and fatality in a storm, whether it is a Super Typhoon or a mere Tropical Disturbance.
We have come to the ages of multi-billion peso investments in establishment of a network of dedicated Doppler Radar facilities and top-of-the-line Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) spread all across the archipelago from Luzon, Visayas down to Mindanao and Palawan–issue here is how long we will be waiting for a credible, accurate and timely release of warnings in order to adapt to the daily weather and be one step ahead of it? May they result to improved Wx forecasting capability of the countries left-out PAGASA, I mean in the aspect of expertise and accuracy, not to include the best of the best they got in meteorological aspect.
Should it take a decade to amount change in the system? I hope not. The Filipino people cannot wait for that long. We need results and by means not tomorrow but today. Not next year but now! We do not deserve another devastating blow to the gut this time around.
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This has been your Weatherguy, hailing from the Philippines saying “Stay safe and be one step ahead of the weather!” ;)
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