New radars up in Virac and Subic by 2010

November 13, 2009 4:31 pm 

By Mediatrix P. Cristobal

MANILA, Nov. 13 — Modernization is finally in the horizon in the state weather bureau with the expected arrival of two of the two Doppler Radars next year, to be placed in bustling Subic in Olongapo, and typhoon gateway in eastern Philippines, Virac City in Catanduanes.

"We are expecting the delivery of our Doppler Radar to be installed in Subic, Olongapo City. We can definitely use it by the first quarter of next year," Prisco Nilo, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

The radar parts will cover Central Luzon, including Metro Manila, he said.

This, as Pagasa signs grant agreement with the Japan government on Friday, through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for another purchase of several state of the art meteorological radars to be put in the most eastern side of Bicol region.

"We plan to install this JICA Doppler in Virac, Catanduanes because it is the most vulnerable area in the country, being at the forefront of incoming typhoons that originate from the Pacific Ocean," he said.

He noted that JICA had been conducting a preparatory study in three typhoon-prone provinces namely: Aparri in Cagayan, Virac in Catanduanes and Guiuan in Eastern Samar for weather station upgrading, and the viability of installing new radars.

Two more radars are underway, he said.

The JICA grant costs P1.7 billion, which includes the purchase of radar parts, Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) communication system and also the orientation and training modules for weather forecasters who would be deployed in the station.

PAGASA plans to procure five brand new Doppler. Each radar will entail a cost of P100 million, to include the construction of the facility that will house the radar and the access road to the facility.

The funds for three Dopplers came from the President’s calamity fund, and those for two more were sourced from the Department of Science and Technology.

The five Dopplers will be installed in Subic, Tagaytay City, Mactan City, Surigao del Sur, and Tampakan in South Cotabato.

Tropical storm Ondoy (KETSANA) left 80 percent of Metro Manila —especially the cities of Marikina, Manila, and Pasig— under water last September 26.

The municipalities of Cainta, San Mateo, Angono, and Tanay in Rizal province were submerged. The floods displaced more than 400,000 people and killed 280 people.

Many sector in the societies repeatedly called for Pagasa modernization to at least mitigate devastating effects of tropical cyclones in the country.

Nilo said this would be fulfilled by Enterprise Electronics Corporation, the United States-based winning bidder.

The firm will facilitate the installation of the Doppler and conduct orientation training of Pagasa-Subic staff who will man the station.

The Pagasa issues storm warning signals based from the data sourced out from the agency's regional weather stations.

The system is limited to making “indicative predictions,” like figuring the gustiness of the wind, the strength of the rain and cloudiness.

However, Nilo said Doppler Radars will take sometime before it can be fully exploited.

Dopplers are not like your usual electronic device that can be plugged and used at once, he said.

Nilo explained it will take months to use because manufacturing and customization time takes around 18 months to accomplish.

He noted the device is typically customized because climate activities acts differently in each country, like here which is much more erratic. (PNA) LDV/MPC

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