PAGASA station struggles despite upgrades
The Philippines’ weather bureau is modernizing its ability to accurately predict the weather. But as KD Suarez reports, the upgrades aren’t enough.
This Radar station in Catanduanes is the weather bureau's watchdog in Bicol and Samar, the pathway of storms.
CHIEF PAGASA VIRAC STATION
Ang main na [function] nitong Doppler radar na ito ay nakukuha ang velocity, motion… Yung precipitation or rain amount ay nakukuha na namin ang actual measurement
(The main function of this Doppler radar is to measure velocity, motion. It’s able to get the actual measurement of precipitation or the amount of rain.)
After a series of natural and public relations disasters, President Benigno Aquino increased the budget.
BENIGNO AQUINO III
Our people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake here, and it is the government’s responsibility to do everything in its power to be ready for these natural disasters.
The PAGASA Modernization Bill was drafted to address the bureau's problems. But the bill failed to pass the Senate last June.
The PAGASA radar station in Buenavista, Bato, Catanduanes was inaugurated by no less than President Benigno Aquino III late last year.
Despite the high profile opening, the station, one of the most advanced in the PAGASA systems, still needs a lot of improvement.
Despite the modern equipment, the job is daunting.
At the heart of the station's operations, only 3 computers process weather data.
Forecasters use a prepaid USB dongle to connect to the internet.
They rely on generators due to the power shortage in the island.
But the biggest problem is the lack of personnel. The result: scientists cannot focus on their main job -
monitoring the weather.
GARCIA: Eh kung mag-bog-down ang ibang equipment diyan, tulad ng generator, aircon, computer?… Mas maayos ang trabaho namin dito na hindi mapuna ng tao kung kumpleto siguro ang personnel na nagtatrabaho dito.
(If our other equipment gets bogged down, like our generator, aircon, computer? Our work would probably be better. People wouldn’t be able to guess if the personnel was lacking.)
For now, the scientists at the Virac Radar Station will do whatever it takes to keep an eye on the weather.
KD Suarez, Rappler, Bato, Catanduanes. - Rappler.com