So Much to Learn About the Weather
“THESE RAINS were not predicted to be any more unusual than typical monsoon rains. On and off. Not a continuous downpour. No warning signals were issued,” said Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte who was acting in behalf of Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista who was abroad at the time.
During a severe weather disturbance, local government units are authorized to suspend classes and work. Belmonte was heavily criticized by Quezon City residents for her belated suspension of classes on July 27. The combination of Tropical Storm (TS) Gorio and a prevailing southwest monsoon caused flooding in certain areas in the region. She cited the bulletin of PAGASA released at 3:40 am which said that “only light to moderate rains were expected, with occasional heavy rains.” Belmonte later apologized, taking responsibility for her decision.
The downpour flooded low-lying areas in Malabon, Valenzuela and Quezon City. In the evening, Gorio intensified to a severe tropical storm, with storm warning signal number 1 raised over the province of Batanes.
CMFR cheers GMA News TV’s State of the Nation with Jessica Soho for an informative weather segment on TS Gorio. On July 27, GMA’s resident meteorologist Nathaniel “Mang Tani” Cruz explained practical points that local authorities should understand. Cruz said that more importance should be given to rainfall warnings than to storm signals, especially when weather involves southwest monsoons, which are the actual cause of rain.
The meteorologist also said that a tropical cyclone not making landfall may still bring rain if it merges with a southwest monsoon. Cruz cautioned the public against judging the weather by what is in plain sight. Unlike thunderstorms that only last for an hour or two, southwest monsoons bring intermittent rains that over time may accumulate and cause flooding.
Local government officials should also consider the topography of their jurisdiction, particularly changes made in local waterways, Cruz added. Parents themselves should judge for themselves and decide for the safety of their children.
A report on GMA News Online, “Why PAGASA did not raise cyclone warnings for Gorio right away” clarified the public misconception about weather terms. Cyclone warning signals are based on wind strength, not the amount of rainfall, which is why no cyclone warning was raised on TS Gorio, despite the heavy downpour. The report added that in order to avoid confusion, PAGASA is planning to revise its typhoon warning system to emphasize this and to describe the effects of a cyclone’s winds.
The article also pointed out that when a cyclone enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), it may not be experienced automatically inside the country. PAR is the “internationally agreed-upon area within which PAGASA takes the lead in monitoring weather disturbances.” This area, the report explained, covers 4.6 million square kilometers, which is over fifteen times the land area of the Philippines.
The reports of GMA News TV and GMA News Online served the public well, providing significant information on weather phenomena which helps both government officials and citizens make sound decisions for public safety. The media should do its part to mitigate the destructive effects of all kinds of disasters, including those caused by unpredictable weather.