Nationwide doppler radar coverage to enhance government's nowcasting

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MANILA -- Government is optimistic plans to have the entire country covered by doppler radars will enhance its nowcasting -- area-specific forecast for the period up to 12 hours ahead that is based on very detailed observational data.

"The plan will increasingly help us predict rainfall that's likely to happen in the next few hours," said Dr. Alfredo Mahar Lagmay, Executive Director of Project Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) under Department of Science and Technology.

He noted rainfall intensity in various areas as well as other data generated using the radars are needed so people can be better warned about possible forthcoming inclement weather-induced calamities.

Lagmay is bullish about the future of Philippine nowcasting, saying government earlier planned installing more doppler radars in the country.

"Our target is to have the country covered by 14 to 15 doppler radars next year," he said.

State weather agency Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) reported nine doppler radars are already operating nationwide.

Those radars are in Baguio, Subic, Baler, Aparri, Tagaytay and Virac in Luzon, Cebu in the Visayas as well as Hinatuan and Tampakan in Mindanao, PAGASA noted.

The plan for nationwide doppler radar coverage is in line with Malacanang's previous order for predicting weather six hours in advance.

Malacanang's order aims to give communities, particularly vulnerable ones, enough lead time to prepare for possible weather-induced calamities.

"We don't want to be overtaken by events," said Presidential Communication Operations Office chief Sec. Herminio Coloma.

Increasingly, timely and better predictions are due as PAGASA already projected climate change to drive wetter rainy seasons in the future.

Aside from nowcasts, PAGASA regularly provides forecasts which predict the weather several days in advance.

Launched in 2012, Project NOAH's mission is to conduct disaster science research and development to help boost government's disaster prevention and mitigation efforts.

Project NOAH also promotes using cutting-edge technologies and recommends innovative information services for the same purpose.

Last year, PAGASA announced its plan to recruit weather spotters who'll volunteer to provide this agency real-time information on weather conditions in respective communities.

PAGASA said such plan seeks generating more information that will help the agency further enhance its forecasting and early warning services so communities nationwide can better prepare for onslaught of weather disturbances.

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