By Butch D. Enerio | Correspondent
INITAO, Misamis Oriental—Print and broadcast journalists from different media outfits in Northern Mindanao were updated on the thrusts of the government on the different concerns about the climate and the weather disturbances occurring in the country.
The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (DOST-Pagasa) led the three-day seminar-workshop from June 18 to 20, which was in the observance of the Typhoon and Flood Awareness Week from June 15 to 19. Pagasa noted that, for the past 10 years, the Philippines has experienced a number of extremely damaging tropical cyclones, particularly typhoons with more than 220 kilometers per hour (kph) of sustained winds. The super typhoon category was officially adopted by the weather and climate experts this year owing to the experiences of Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) in 2013, which rendered the four-level public storm warning system (PSWS) Nos. 1 to 4 inadequate.
In consonance with the warning systems used by the international members of the typhoon committee, Pagasa has modified tropical cyclone classification in the country, where the PSWS is now from storm signals Nos. 1 to 5, 5 being the strongest with winds of more than 220 kph that would result in a very heavy to widespread damage or devastation. Storm signals are based on the intensity of the typhoon and the weather instruments of Pagasa, where warning is more pronounced when a weather disturbance enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).
Reneito Paciente, Pagasa assistant weather specialist, said the country will experience less typhoons this year from the average 20 to 25 cyclones that enter the PAR annually, owing to the El Niño or the prolonged dry spell, that the country is currently experiencing.
Nino Relos, Pagasa senior weather specialist, discussed that a storm surge happen during typhoons and at high tide, when seawater rises meters above its normal height and pushed inland by the strong wind. Storm surge is most likely to occur in low-lying coastal areas. Relos said that despite devastations brought by typhoons, they have their benefits also to the environment. “Typhoons bring rains that replenish water tables and supply our water system.
They diminishe the pollutants present both in the air and on the surface,” Relos said. He said that with Pagasa’s continued and updated technology to detect weather anomalies, coupled with the country’s awareness on disaster mitigation, the destructive effects of tropical cyclones would be further diminished in the future.
Other topics discussed during the seminar were “Rainfall Warning System, Flood Forecasting and Warning System,” “Climatology in the Philippines” and “Updates of the El Niño Phenomenon and the Astronomical Services.”
The speakers from Pagasa included Mario Raymundo, Danilo Flores, Rusy Abastillas, Anianita Fortich, Venus Valdemoro, Felisa Gonzales and Melanie Aquino, and journalist Mario Garcia, who spoke on the role of the media in the disaster risk reduction and mitigation.