PAGASA vows faster forecasts

Posted at 09/15/10 10:58 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Who wants weather reports every 10 minutes during typhoons?

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) will be able to issue hourly weather updates and release bulletins every 10 minutes by the year end, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo said on Wednesday.

He said PAGASA’s 2 upgraded Doppler radars and access to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite server allows the agency to issue faster and more accurate weather predictions.

Another Doppler radar will be upgraded this month and 7 more will go online by the end of the year, he said in a press briefing with Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte.

“More frequent updates mean a more effective forecasting system,” he said.

The agency will also use layman’s language in weather bulletins instead of technical jargon to allow the public to better understand the reports.

According to PAGASA Deputy Administrator Nathaniel Servando, the agency now has 59 synoptic stations, 43 automated weather stations, and 5 meterological facilities nationwide.

“Synoptic stations are manned weather observation stations doing 24/7 observations, and reporting directly all information to the National Weather Forecasting Center,” Servando explained.

Montejo said the DOST and the PAGASA have learned from the lessons of Typhoon Ondoy that hit the country in September last year.

“My first priority… is what will we do to avoid a tragedy like Ondoy,” he added.

He said PAGASA is also installing a flood monitoring and forecasting system along the Marikina-Pasig River system.

He expects the system to be launched before the end of the month.

The public will be allowed access and download the flood monitoring and forecasting data on the PAGASA website when the program goes online, the DOST chief said.

During typhoons and heavy rains, the weather bureau will also issue flood updates and forecasts every 2 hours to warn communities nationwide, he said.

With regard to the weather bureau’s manpower needs, Montejo said PAGASA has hired 10 new personnel from Ateneo de Manila University.

“One of the reason nabawasan iyong aming meteorological people is that maraming umalis. Pero the other side is that, hindi puwedeng mag-hire iyong PAGASA because of the rationalization,” he said. ”Right now na wala namang rationalization, nag-hire kami.”

He said the DOST’s immediate concern is producing enough experts in the weather forecasting field who will teach their know-how to the younger generation.

“Iyung iba nating mag professors ay magre-retire na o nag-retire na, so iyon ang kailangan natin to do something about,” he explained. “Nagkukulang na tayo ng mga professors natin to train in the future which we have to address.” - with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News