Reissuing call for paradigm shift

Eastern Visayas: Hardest hit area during Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)

As earlier stated in this site: "The level of confidence with which government addresses the challenges of disaster forecasting is extremely low.

"It appears that even being able to obtain certain satellite data about a tropical cyclone’s strength, and the inevitable accompanying storm surges as in New York and other parts of USA very recently, due to inferiority the PAGASA cannot shout out its warnings to the public loud enough so the people can feel the poignant threat of what is going to hit them and at what point in time in the near future."

Furthermore, as in the case of Tropical Cyclone Ketsana (Ondoy), the Zamboanga City Siege, the Haiyan (Yolanda), among other disasters, there are a lot of dubious, suspicious, highly contradictory statements and acts by government.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has disclosed to national media that on several days prior to November 8-9, 2013, when tropical cyclone Haiyan codenamed Yolanda struck Eastern and Central Visayas, it had issued warnings about storm surge.

A weather specialist interviewed over national television sounded extremely defensive during the interview, stating in no uncertain terms that he and his agency (PAGASA), cannot and should never be blamed for not issuing warnings about the storm surge.

The Weather Philippines Foundation
On the other hand, on 9 PM November 28, 2013, a search over the internet yielded a page called SUPER TYPHOON HAIYAN (YOLANDA) UPDATE NUMBER 010 constituting findings by a private weather forecasting entity called The Weather Philippines Foundation (WPF) that stated through a written weather advisory disseminated publicly on the internet, that storm surge of up to 18 feet or 5.5 meters will hit coastal, inland lakes and beach front areas of Eastern Visayas between 8-9 AM of Friday, November 8, 2013.

WPF is owned by the Aboitiz Group of Companies (owner of Aboitiz Shipping, Union Bank, etc.) and in partnership with the Meteomedia – a Swiss company established in 1990 by its owner, Jörg Kachelmann.

WPF warned that catastrophic damage is likely on this type of storm surge. Danger from Rip Currents or Rip Tides can be expected along the rest of the beach-front areas of Eastern Luzon, Eastern and Northern Mindanao and the rest of Visayas incl. Palawan.

The advisory appeared in the form shown below, but with the supposed caveat that the reader must not use the advisory for life-threatening decisions:
“Do not use this for life or death decisions. This update is intended for additional information purposes only. Kindly refer to your national weather agency for official warnings, advisories or bulletins.”
Issued at: 12:00 AM PhT (16:00 GMT) Friday 08 November 2013
Next Update: 6:00 PM PhT (22:00 GMT) Friday 08 November 2013
Super Typhoon HAIYAN (YOLANDA) has turned into a 305 km/hr howler...and is considered as the most powerful tropical cyclone ever to develop since Super Typhoon Tip of October 1979...moving closer to Eastern Visayas...likely to make landfall over Eastern Leyte or Southern Samar after sunrise today.
Residents and visitors along Northeastern Mindanao, Visayas, and Bicol Region should closely monitor the development of Haiyan (Yolanda).
Do not use this for life or death decisions. This update is intended for additional information purposes only. Kindly refer to your national weather agency for official warnings, advisories or bulletins.
As of 11:00 pm today, the eye of STY Haiyan (Yolanda) was located over the South Philippine Sea...about 320 km east-southeast of Tacloban City, Leyte or 425 km east of Metro Cebu...currently moving very quickly west-northwest with a forward speed of 39 km/hr towards Leyte and Southern Samar Area.
Maximum Sustained Winds (1-min. avg) have increased to 305 km/hr near the center with higher gusts. Typhoon Force Winds (118 km/hr or more) extend outward up to 95 kilometers from the center...and Tropical Storm Force Winds (63-117 km/hr) extend outward up to 240 kilometers from the center. STY Haiyan is a small-sized tropical cyclone with a diameter of 610 kilometers across. 
STY Haiyan is expected to move fast in a generally straight, west-northwest track throughout the forecast period. On the forecast track, the core of STY Haiyan will make landfall over the central-eastern shores of Leyte, about 45 km south of Tacloban City between 8-9 AM Friday and cross Northern Leyte passing over or very close to Ormoc City just around noontime Friday. This Super Typhoon will be passing over the northern tip of Cebu, very close to Bogo City around 2 PM then it will start traversing the North Central part of the Visayas through Friday evening...across Northern Panay (very close to Roxas City and Boracay) late Friday afternoon...and will be in the vicinity of Coron, Palawan by Friday midnight. On Saturday evening, Haiyan (Yolanda) will exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).
STY Haiyan (Yolanda) will start to weaken slightly within the next 24 through 48 hours as the system makes landfall over North Central Visayas...and will be just a Category 4 TY on Saturday. Advance Intensity Forecast (AIF) shows its 1-minute maximum sustained winds decreasing to just 215 km/hr by Saturday evening.
The following is the summary of the 2-day forecast outlook and an extended 3-day forecast on this system:
FRIDAY EVENING: Weakens slightly but remains a very dangerous Category 4 Super Typhoon...over Sulu Sea as it approaches Calamian Group...about 75 km WSW of Boracay [8PM NOV 08: 11.6N 121.3E @ 240kph].
SATURDAY EVENING: Moves out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR)...weakens further while over the South China and West Philippine Seas...about 595 km SE of Da Nang, Vietnam [8PM NOV 09: 13.9N 113.3E @ 215kph]. 
SUNDAY EVENING: Making landfall along the coast of Central Vietnam...weakens to Category 2...about 70 km NE of Hue, Vietnam [8PM NOV 10: 17.0N 107.2E @ 165kph].
*Please be reminded that the Forecast Outlook changes every 6 hours, and the Day 2 and 3 Forecast Track has an average error of 100 and 250 km respectively...while the wind speed forecast error, averages 35 kph per day. Therefore, a turn to the left or right of its future track and changes in its wind speed must be anticipated from time to time. 
Below is the summary of the storm's parts and its hazards affecting specific areas. You can also view this image link for you to understand the parts.
30-KM ROUND EYE - over water. Possible calm and lull conditions (with <20 about="" be="" click="" expected="" eye="" font="" here="" inside="" know="" kph="" more="" the="" to="" will="" winds="">
EYEWALL - where Typhoon Conditions with Typhoon Force Winds (>118 kph) will be expected within this wall. Affected Areas: None yet...but approaching the shores of Southern Samar and Leyte. (click here to know more about the Eyewall).
INNER RAINBANDS - where Tropical Storm Conditions with Tropical Storm Force Winds (63-100 kph) will be expected. Affected Areas: Samar, Leyte, Masbate, and Caraga.
OUTER RAINBANDS - where Tropical Depression Conditions with light, moderate to strong winds (30-62 kph) will be expected. Affected Areas: Bicol Region, Northern Palawan, Mindoro, Metro Manila, CaLaBaRZon, Rest of Visayas and Mindanao (click here to know more about Rainbands).
24HR TOTAL RAINFALL ACCUMULATION - from 5 up to 100 mm (slight to heavy rainfall) can be expected along areas affected by the outer & inner rainbands (see above)...with isolated amounts of 101 to 250 mm (heavy) along areas near the center of Haiyan. 
COASTAL STORM SURGE FLOODING - possible >18 ft (>5.5 m) above normal tide levels... accompanied by large and dangerous battering waves can be expected along the coastal, inland lakes and beach front areas of Eastern Visayas this morning. Catastrophic damage is likely on this type of storm surge. Danger from Rip Currents or Rip Tides can be expected along the rest of the beach-front areas of Eastern Luzon, Eastern and Northern Mindanao and the rest of Visayas incl. Palawan (click here to know more about Storm Surge).-->
Important Note: Please keep in mind that the above forecast outlook, effects and hazards summary changes every 6 to 12 hrs!
Time/Date: 11:00 PM PhT Thu Nov 07, 2013
Class/Name: STY Haiyan (Yolanda)
Location of Eye: Near 10.4º N Lat 127.8º E Lon
Distance 1: 195 km ENE of Siargao Island
Distance 2: 295 km SE of Borongan City
Distance 3: 320 km ESE of Tacloban City
Distance 4: 355 km ESE of Ormoc City
Distance 5: 425 km E of Metro Cebu
MaxWinds (1-min avg): 305 kph near the center
Peak Wind Gusts: 370 kph
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale: Category 5
Present Movement: WNW @ 39 kph
Towards: Leyte-Southern Samar Area
CPA [ETA] to Leyte: This Morning [between 8-10AM PhT]
Minimum Central Pressure: 911 millibars (hPa)
Issued by: David Michael V. Padua for
Forecasting with more confidence

Meteomedia - a Switzerland firm, can boast publicly of its capability to analyze satellite data even if it issues a waiver that the Philippines' weather bureau is the last stop of the blame in any disaster casualties in the Philippines.

However, its network of stations, its connections with other scientific entities and institutions, not the least of which should be the Government of Switzerland and its various agencies devoted to weather, disaster, humanitarian activities provide Meteomedia a wide source for its benchmarks and data base.

For the PAGASA to have as large a database as Meteomedia, would be admirable, for which reason, we had embarked into producing this brief presentation paper.

PHIVOLCS and the MGB, the DOST can all have the benefit of enlarging their database, building a GIS that will be their source of patterns, trends, precedents, guide for issuance of forecasts and appropriate advisories on the proper course of action to take for the public and the government if an activity such as the HMES will be staged either in Manila, or by the United Nations in Sendai, Japan in March 2015 - if the private-led HMES conference that had been rescheduled by Filipino organizers will fail to take off in 2014.

This was the very same principle embodied in the conference paper on hazards mapping and environment summit in Manila that was given to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2009-2010.

Evidently, the DENR went on its own and undertook hazards mapping with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau as its key responsible agency, providing it a budget of Philippine Pesos Eighteen Million (Php18-M).

Such an amount given to the MGB is a very, very measly sum. The organizers for HMES foresee an initial only fund alone for GIS-development on earthquakes, hazards in the environment of United States Dollars Fifty Million Dollars (USD50-M). That will include bare minimum civil works to house the equipment needed for the development of a really decently sized GIS that will help in future forecasting of calamities and prospects of mass casualty incidents (MCI).

As stated in 2010, there is a need for policy regime change, a paradigm shift in the way the Philippine Government treats its scientific and technical sector. In 1995, when nearly everyone was using the latest Windows 95-ready microcomputers, at the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology himself, all the computers including that in the table of the DOST Secretary were old jurassic models and their only running program was Wordstar and an antiquated spreadsheet program. The Secretary's printer wasn't even functioning. Office staff declared, the equipment needed very long due repair. How long ago was that, we asked. They said, almost one year.

Everywhere you went around the DOST building at the time, you will find then a broken electric fan, broken tables, a lot of broken office appliances signifying a decrepit office that was supposed to be the vanguard of the country's research and development.

Nearly twenty years ago today, if every division in DOST has the latest 23 inch to 42 inch computer monitors for better graphic manipulation and interfacing in presentations, the best printing equipment, the best computers including a Cray supercomputer for databasing or other mainframes for the same purpose, then it must have modernized since we last promised not to visit it again because of severe heart pain experienced at the sight of the agency's disrepair and backwardness.

With a fully throbbing computing system, a huge database and GIS for disaster, it is difficult to go wrong in forecasting. Very difficult. While, as they say, only God can be one hundred percent accurate, having a really modern and complete system can make the forecasting effort yield a final weather or even seismic activity advisory that has a very low percentage for error, or in other words, 90% to 99% accuracy.

Selling warning to the public

A confident forecaster from PAGASA, PHIVOLCS, NDRRMC and any other similar agency, can most proudly tell the public of the latest bulletin without having to couch the language in garbage bureaucratese.

Furthermore, there needs to be a way for the Philippine Government to remove the middlemen of RDRRMC, PDRRMC, MDRRMC, all other RRMCs, in the issuance of advisories, warnings, bulletins. These information should now be told directly to the people.

In the Gallery below, one could see the sample of Public Warning Systems (PWD) that Center for Human and Society (Centre di Humanes et Societas, Inc.) introduced to the Philippine Government in 1992.

Photo Gallery: Public Warning Systems

       Diagram of a PWS

Images of the destruction by calamities in the Philippines and in Japan

Next: Response Effort

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