CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 6 Dec) – President Benigno Simeon Aquino III was not aware that the Doppler radar station in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur was not working on the day typhoon Pablo struck eastern Mindanao last Tuesday, Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said here Thursday.
“I was not aware of that. It was never brought to the attention of President Aquino,” Roxas said in a press conference here.
Roxas, who was inspecting provinces hit by Typhoon Pablo, quickly wrote it down when the question was raised during the press conference and promised he will bring it up to President Aquino.
The Doppler station of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in Hinatuan, the only radar station in Mindanao, was down only months after it went online along with the other Doppler stations in Cebu, Subic and Tagaytay.
With a range of 300 kilometers, Doppler stations provide up-to-the-minute or real time information on wind velocity and rain density which is uploaded immediately to Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and other monitoring stations in Asia.
Roxas said the Doppler stations form a vital part of the country’s weather monitoring network aside from PAGASA’s use of old technology such as rain gauges.
“We are in fact thinking of investing in newer Doppler stations which has greater range, like 600 kilometers. We need to have these to cover our entire country,” he said.
Roxas said the Aquino administration is also looking forward to buying access to weather satellites so the data can be downloaded to PAGASA.
He said the data can be downloaded to Project NOAH which is now available on the internet (http://noah.dost.gov.ph).
“But first we will have to make a survey on how many towns are internet-capable. We also want to explore the smart phone technology if we can access real-time weather information,” Roxas said.
With the Hinatuan Doppler station not working, the local government of Cagayan de Oro uses old technology like rain gauges, water level gauges, and radio to achieve “zero casualty” after Typhoon Pablo.
It was one of these technologies what was responsible for the timely alert that the flood waters were already seven meters high in the Bubunawan River, one of the major tributaries of Cagayan de Oro River.
The early alert system gave enough time for city disaster officials to evacuate residents in Barangay Macasandig and other areas beside Cagayan de Oro River last Tuesday. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)