Communities who’ve been warned to prepare for supertyphoon Chedeng/Maysak are now again talking about the reliability of reports issued by PAGASA. Areas that were placed under Signal No. 2 had sunny weather instead. Even the rains were not as heavy as the usual downpours that April is known for. How so?
As someone who’s observed the weather for some time, my observation is that storms dissipate when a lunar event e.g. a full moon is happening at the same time as a typhoon.
A lunar eclipse, reported to be partly visible in the country, was predicted to occur on the day the typhoon was supposed to hit land in Isabela (i.e. Sunday/Easter morning). Also, there’s a new moon this very night.
There’s a scientific explanation as to how significant lunar events influence weather conditions (examples, here, here and here). Scientists over at PAGASA know. Yet, Twitterlandia has been, shall I say, unnecessarily charged with panic over anticipated effects of typhoon Chedeng. An example is the news on there being an anticipated 10M people who would be affected. As it turned out, the news came to naught. My point is, PAGASA in striving for accurate and reliable weather forecasts should study the forces of nature as scientists do and having done that issue reports that have taken the entire forest so to speak into account.
Typhoons are a force in themselves but still there are other equally significant and powerful forces at play. What are these and how these will, for example, slow down or up storm speed and intensity are what PAGASA should know.
Of course, without the tools of thetrade, as well as funding for continuous research, folks at PAGASA are no better than experienced fishers and farmers.
The impact of an incorrect forecast to a population of six (i.e. a family) may not be as devastating as compared to when it affects 100M people and xxx businesses (especially agricultural) not to mention financial flows in an economy poised to be South East Asia’s next Tiger. Remember the forecast for Haiyan then. It didn’t take into account the pre-typhoon events involving water bodies in the affected areas, consequently the probability of a storm surge happening was not factored in.
Modernizing PAGASA therefore makes a lot of economic sense particularly for a country lying at the heart of typhoon and tectonic activities. In fact, resilience is correlated to this agency’s capacities. Risk reduction plans and decisions are effective to the extent that weather and climate data are comprehensive, specific, and accurate.