New radars to improve Mindanao weather forecasts

Gerry Pedrico, chief of the Davao City weather station of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, Astronomical Services Administration, told reporters Friday they will install a Doppler radar in Mt. Puting Bato in Samal Island before the year ends.

Pedrico said aside from the Samal Island installation, they have also eyed similar facilities in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and General Santos.

He said PAGASA will install the P110-million worth radar facility to improve accuracy of weather forecasting in the region.

Pedrico explained that the government's budget constrains delayed the use of the technology in Mindanao. The Doppler radar, he said, has been in use in Tanay, Rizal and in Legazpi City in Albay since 2002.

The Samal facility already has appropriations, he said, but installation was delayed due to problems encountered with the donation of land where to put up the radar.

American media reported that the Doppler radar, considered a key forecasting tool, has been used by the National Weather Service since the 1980s around the United States.

He said the installation could boost weather forecasting accuracy, although not that high.

"The weather takes its own course and obtaining very accurate forecast is difficult," he told reporters after he joined other government agencies Friday to call the attention of the public to prepare for the rainy days against floods and other weather disturbances.

Pedrico said using the present technology called synoptic procedure, they have 80 to 85 percent accuracy while the Doppler facility could improve it from 85 to 90 percent.

He said at least the technology would enable the local weather bureau to process local weather data and need not send it to Manila for analysis.

He said this would help them do actual weather forecast, which at present is done by sending local data to Manila.

According to online news publication USA Today in 2005, data generated from the computer-maneuvered technology enables scientists and forecasters more understanding of wind motions in storms, or even in clear air, to more clearly understand what is happening now and what is likely to happen in the next hour or two.