As the Philippines remains at risk of disasters, the state weather bureau is looking for ways to improve the country’s weather forecasts and early warning systems, an official said Wednesday.
Dr. Esperanza Cayanan, the deputy administrator for research and development for the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said the agency is conducting a pilot study on impact-based forecasting and warning services in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.
She said on ANC’s “Headstart” that this approach enables anticipatory action that aims to mitigate the impact of weather-related hazards.
“I think we really need to move fast on this because of what we are experiencing right now,” Cayanan said. “I believe this is one of the improvements that we really need to implement as soon as possible.”
In the aftermath of Severe Tropical Storm “Paeng,” Cayanan admitted there is a need to improve descriptions of the possible impact of cyclones in forecast advisories.
“Maybe we need to highlight the impacts rather than the description of the rainfall,” she said.
The PAGASA official also noted the “big gap” in terms of coordination with local government units.
To detect rising water levels, PAGASA is working on early flood warning systems in some parts of the country, Cayanan said. The agency issues heavy rainfall warnings every 3 hours.
Seven years after the passage of Republic Act 10692 or the PAGASA Modernization Act, Cayanan listed several improvements in the agency.
The weather bureau now has 102 automatic weather stations, 28 lightning detection systems, and 36 high-frequency radars for coastal areas.
But Cayanan said PAGASA remains understaffed and has proposed hiring for dozens of new positions.
“We have proposed for this year around 200 plus. But basically, overall for the modernization, more or less 500 to 600 positions,” she added.
Being smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean’s typhoon belt, the Philippines sees an average of 20 tropical cyclones annually.
Last week, Paeng triggered floods and landslides in the country, leaving at least 121 people dead and 103 injured.
Some three million Filipinos were affected by the storm, the latest data from the country’s disaster agency showed.
Damage to infrastructure was estimated at P896 million while losses from crops, livestock, poultry, and fisheries reached P1.2 billion.