Oscar Tabada, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) director in the Visayas, told The STAR the destruction of the P450-million Doppler radar in Guiuan, Eastern Samar has made the country’s eastern section blind to incoming typhoons.

MANILA, NOVEMBER 14, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Helen Flores -Doppler radar also destroyed - Typhoon Yolanda has destroyed the country’s first line of defense against severe weather disturbances even as weathermen expect one or two more storms in the coming weeks.

Oscar Tabada, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) director in the Visayas, told The STAR the destruction of the P450-million Doppler radar in Guiuan, Eastern Samar has made the country’s eastern section blind to incoming typhoons.

“The Guiuan Doppler is important,” he said in Filipino. “We have to fix it at the earliest possible time as typhoons are headed toward the Visayas.”

Tabada said the Guiuan radar was designed to withstand strong typhoons with winds up to 500 kilometers per hour.

“It is the first line of defense for Southern Luzon and Visayas communities against storms,” he said.

Guiuan was chosen as the location of the radar as it faces the Pacific Ocean, he added.

Tabada said PAGASA engineers are still assessing the damage to the radar. The dome, a spherical shell that encloses a radar device, was blown from the tower at the height of Yolanda.

“As of this time we are not receiving data from our Guiuan station,” he said. The stations in Coron, Palawan and Tacloban, Leyte are also “totally down,” he added.

Tabada said the repair of the radar might take months, and that the Japanese supplier had been informed and a team of experts is set to arrive to help assess the damage.

The PAGASA station in Guiuan, including the equipment, costs around P100 million, he added.

Tabada said they are repairing the rain gauges in the areas that Yolanda had devastated as rainfall data are vital in regular weather forecasts.

“We can only have rainfall data from these areas for now but not for wind,” he said.

Tabada said the forecasters could use the data transmitted by Doppler radars in nearby areas, particularly Cebu and Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur.

Satellite data from foreign meteorological agencies could also be used, he added.

Tabada said PAGASA would relocate its station in Tacloban City that huge waves from Yolanda had wiped out.


Big storm could level Metro November 13, 2013 10:11 pm by Ritchie A. Horario Reporter

Architect Felino Palafox Jr. (center) met with The Manila Times President and Chief Executive Officer Dante F.M. Ang (second from left) on Wednesday. A noted urban planner, Palafox says that Metro Manila should prepare for more Yolanda-type typhoons as well as earthquakes similar to the one that crippled Bohol province last month. PHOTO BY EDWIN MULI

WHAT will happen if a typhoon as powerful as Yolanda hit Metro Manila?

Utter devastation and chaos, renowned architect Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr. said.

If a typhoon with winds of up to 315 kilometers per hour bore down on the metropolis, many buildings, particularly the old structures, would collapse, he said.

If such an intense typhoon hits and the residents are unprepared, the devastation would be worse than what was seen in Central Visayas.

The same thing would happen if a 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook the metro.

Palafox cited a study conducted in 2004 by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)—the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction—which said that low-rise buildings are most likely to collapse than high rise structures.

According to the JICA study, at least 40 percent of low-rise buildings and only 2 percent of high-rise buildings would collapse if a strong quake shook Metro Manila.

“The reason for that is high rise buildings were constructed using the right design.

They conducted a geologic study, structure study, earthquake analysis and wind tunnel analysis. While the low rise buildings seemed to have violated the building code,” Palafox told The Manila Times in an interview.

Aside from the damage to structures, Palafox said the study also estimates that more than 30,000 people would die, most of them informal settlers.

At least 34 government offices and seven bridges would collapse and Metro Manila would be divided.

The typhoon that smashed entire villages in the Visayas was considered more powerful than Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,833 people in the United States in 2005.

Meteorologists consider Yolanda to be the most powerful typhoon to make landfall in history. The Philippines lies smack in the path of typhoons, being on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, the world’s most active area for tropical cyclones.

Typhoons become super typhoons once they reach maximum sustained winds of at least 240 kilometers per hour.

A super typhoon in the Philippines is equivalent to a Category 4 or 5 hurricane in the Atlantic.

Palafox said that if a Yolanda-like typhoon sliced across Metro Manila, dozens of buildings will be toppled, leading to a “chaotic” scenario.

He called on the government to ensure that structures comply with building codes to minimize loss of lives and damage to property.

Palafox urged the government to review and update the building, structural, and zoning codes, as well as land use and planning policies.

“The government should conduct structural audit immediately. We should update the building code now, that was nine years ago,” he added.

Palafox said structures should not only be resistant to strong quakes but should also withstand the powerful winds of super typhoons.

He explained that under the Building Code, developers are required to ensure that their structures must withstand winds of up to 220 kilometers per hour only.

“But in case there will be strong winds, our buildings are not ready for it, they are not designed well,” Palafox added.

The deadly typhoon and associated storm surge—which survivors have likened to a tsunami—tore through the archipelago last week, killing at least 10,000 people.

“Although individual tropical cyclones cannot be directly attributed to climate change, higher sea levels are already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges. We saw this with tragic consequences in the Philippines,” said Michel Jarraud, the agency’s chief.

Experts say the relationship between climate change and tropical cyclones is still an open question.

Some, though, predict these events will become more powerful and possibly more frequent, too, as a result of global warming.

“Global sea level reached a new record high during March 2013,” the WMO said in its report.

At 3.2 mm (0.12 inches) a year, the current average rise is double the 20th-century trend of 1.6 millimeters (0.06 inches) a year, it said.

The WMO said that in 2012, concentrations of greenhouse gases hit a new high of 393.1 parts per million, a rise of 2.2 parts per million over the previous year and an increase of 41 percent since the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1750.

“We expect them to reach unprecedented levels yet again in 2013. This means that we are committed to a warmer future,” Jarraud declared.

The agency said the first nine months of 2013 tied with 2003 as the seventh warmest such period since modern data collection began in 1850.

Global land and ocean surface temperature of about 0.48 degrees Celsius (0.86 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1961-1990 average.

Most regions posted above-average temperatures, with notable extremes in Australia, the north of North America, northeastern South America, North Africa and much of Eurasia.

Emissions of greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide, are mainly caused by fossil-fuel burning to power industry, transport and farming.

Experts warn that unless more is done to rein them in emissions, the world faces potentially devastating effects.

In addition to megastorms, expect impacts include species extinctions, water shortages, heatwaves or drought, crop die-offs, loss of land to the rising seas as glaciers and polar ice melt, and spreading disease. With report from AFP

Looting, gunfire break out in typhoon-hit city By Kristen Gelineau and Jim Gomez (Associated Press) | Updated November 14, 2013 - 2:02am 0 0 googleplus0 0

TACLOBAN — Mobs overran a rice warehouse on the island worst hit by the Philippine typhoon, setting off a wall collapse that killed eight people and carting off thousands of sacks of the grain, while security forces yesterday exchanged gunfire with an armed gang.

The incidents in or close to the storm-ravaged city hosting international relief efforts add to concerns about the slow pace of aid distribution and that parts of the disaster zone are descending into chaos.

Five long days after Typhoon Haiyan wasted the eastern seaboard of the Philippines, the cogs of what promises to be a massive international aid effort are beginning to turn, but not quickly enough for the some 600,000 people displaced, many of them homeless, hungry and thirsty.

"There's a bit of a logjam to be absolutely honest getting stuff in here," said UN staffer Sebastian Rhodes Stampa against the roar of a C-130 transport plane landing behind him at the airstrip in Tacloban, one of the hardest-hit cities.

"It's almost all in country — either in Manila or in Cebu, but it's not here. We're going to have a real challenge with logistics in terms of getting things out of here, into town, out of town, into the other areas," he said. "The reason for that essentially is that there are no trucks, the roads are all closed."

Planes, ships and trucks were all on their way to the region, loaded with generators, water purifying kits and emergency lights — vital equipment needed to sustain a major relief mission. Airports were reopening in the region, and the US military said it was installing equipment to allow the damaged Tacloban aiport to operate 24-7.

Tacloban's mayor, Alfred Romualdez, urged residents to flee the city because local authorities were having trouble providing food and water and maintaining order, The New York Times reported. He said the city was in desperate need of trucks to distribute relief shipments that were accumulating at the city's airport as well as equipment to pull decaying corpses from the rubble.

Eight people were crushed to death when the mob stormed a rice warehouse around 24 kilometers (15 miles) from Tacloban on Tuesday and carried off thousands of sacks of grain, according to National Food Authority spokesman Rex Estoperez.

On yesterday, gunfire broke out close to the city's San Juanico bridge on yesterday between security forces and armed men, but the circumstances were unclear, according to footage on local TV.

Since the storm, people have broken into homes, malls and garages, where they have stripped the shelves of food, water and other goods. Authorities have struggled to stop the looting. There have been unconfirmed reports of armed gangs of robbers operating in a systematic manner.

An 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew was in place across the region. Despite incidents, police said the situation was improving.

"We have restored order," said Carmelo Espina Valmoria, director of the Philippine National Police special action force. "There has been looting for the last three days, but the situation has stabilized."

The death toll rose to 2,344, according a national tally kept by the disaster agency. That figure is expected to rise, perhaps significantly, when accurate information is collected from the entirety of the disaster zone, which spreads over a wide swath of the eastern and central Philippines but appears to be concentrated on two main islands, Leyte and Samar.

The congressman for Eastern Samar province, a coastal region that bore the full force of the storm, said 211 had been killed there and 45 were missing. He said some villages have been wiped out, with practically no structures standing. In one town, bodies remain lying on the road because help has not come to retrieve or bury them. Other towns have conducted mass burials.

"The situation there was horrible," Ben Evardone told a local television station. "Some communities disappeared, entire villages were wiped out. They were shouting 'food, food, food!' when they saw me."

US Brig Gen. Paul Kennedy promised a response akin to the widely praised US military one after the 2004 Asian tsunami, when fleets of helicopters dropped water and food to hundreds of isolated communities along the coast.

"You are not just going to see Marines and a few planes and some helicopters," Kennedy said. "You will see the entire Pacific Command respond to this crisis."

A Norwegian ship carrying supplies left from Manila, while an Australian air force transport plane took off from Canberra carrying a medical team. British and American navy vessels are also en route to the region.

At the Tacloban airport, makeshift clinics have been set up and thousands of people were waiting for a flight out. A doctor said supplies of antibiotics and anesthetics arrived Tuesday for the first time.

"Until then, patients had to endure the pain," said Dr. Victoriano Sambale.

Relief officials said comparing the pace of this operation to those in past disasters was largely pointless because each posed unique challenges.

In Indonesia's Aceh, the worst-hit region by the 2004 tsunami, relief hubs were easier to set up than in Tacloban. The main airport there was functioning 24-7 within a couple of days of the disaster. While devastation in much of the city of Banda Aceh was total, large inland parts of the city were undamaged, providing a base for aid operations and temporary accommodation for the homeless.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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