Where are the Doppler radars intended for Mindanao?

Carmelito Lupo, regional disaster coordinating council 10 chair and civil defense regional director said "PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) should be asked about it," Lupo said in a telephone interview.

A Doppler radar system helps improve the accuracy of weather forecasting.

Anianita R. Fortich, chief meteorological office of PAG-ASA Malaybalay said the Doppler radar could have enhanced forecasting capability of weather stations, such as those in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, and Gingoog.

"It could have helped identify location, intensity, direction of the wind in case of tornados and even the movement of clouds, in case of cloudbursts," she told MindaNews.

The recent flooding that hit three cities in northern Mindanao and displaced close to 8,000 families, was caused by torrential rains due to heavy cloudburst from Bukidnon that concentrated rainfall down to Cagayan de Oro and other neighboring cities.  

Victims interviewed by Cagayan de Oro media said the rainfall was too much on January 3 as it was observed to bring "strong water current" and that the flood “came so fast".  

The flooding left at least 168 houses entirely wrecked and 126 others partially damaged. Seven people were declared missing and a child was confirmed dead as of January 5.

Floods again struck parts of Cagayan de Oro over the weekend.

Dr. Flaviana D. Hilario, PAGASA weather services chief, said a Doppler radar could have helped forecast, but there is no radar to install.

But where are the Doppler radars intended for Mindanao?

"May nanalo nang bidders, (There are winning bidders already)" she told MindaNews.

In November, Hilario was among those who gave a presentation on the role of seasonal climate forecasts in the agricultural sector of Bukidnon.

She said Doppler radars are very important in forecasting, especially with the need for more accurate forecasts to adopt in a time of climatic changes.

She said in Luzon, they have just upgraded the radar in Baler (Aurora) to Doppler.

Gerry Pedrico, chief of PAG-ASA in Davao City, told reporters in July 2007 that 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 were also eyeing similar facilities for 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.

Cloudburst was also blamed for flashfloods in eight villages in Lantapan town and Malaybalay on December 27, 2007.  It affected close to 500 families, leaving three dead and two missing, and millions of pesos worth of damages to homes and farms.

But Fortich told MindaNews last Friday that a big factor of the damage, apart from the heavy rain, is environmental degradation.

She said land conversions to agri-industrial plantations and subdivisions in the area are rampant.   

Lupo told ABS-CBN Cagayan de Oro last week the rainfall was so much based on rain gauge data measured by the local weather bureau at more than 100 millimeters.   

But officials did not rule out the massive quarrying and logging in the area as among the culprits. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)