Disaster Fact Checks

FALSE: 3 more tropical cyclones entering, near PAR

FALSE: 3 more tropical cyclones entering, near PAR
As of November 13, state weather bureau PAGASA has not detected weather disturbances aside from Typhoon Ulysses
FALSE: 3 more tropical cyclones entering, near PAR
At a glance:
  • Claim: Tropical cyclones Vicky, Warren, Yoyong, and Zosimo are near or entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has not detected any other weather disturbance that could affect the country as of 11 am on Friday, November 13.
  • Why we fact-checked this: The post was emailed to Rappler for verification. It has 512 reactions, 27 comments, and 961 shares as of writing.
Complete details:

At 4:36 am on Thursday, November 12, a Facebook user named Albert Riego posted a picture of a supposed satellite image which showed that tropical cyclone Vicky was already inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR). Aside from showing tropical cyclones Rolly, Siony, and Tonyo exiting the country, the image also showed that tropical cyclones named Warren, Yoyong, and Zosimo are close to the PAR.

201112-ulysses-typhoon-lineup-fact-check-full-post-screenshot

This claim was emailed to Rappler for verification. As of writing, it has 512 reactions, 27 comments, and 961 shares.

These claims are false. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has not detected any other tropical cyclone that could affect the country as of 11 am on November 13. Satellite imagery taken on November 11 and November 12 also have no similarities with the picture posted by Riego.

In a press briefing aired at 5 pm on November 12, PAGASA Weather Specialist Ariel Rojas said that so far, they have not detected any other weather disturbance that could affect the country. However, he added that they forecast 3 tropical cyclones in November. Rojas said that this number has already been reached midway through November, so it is possible for one or two more tropical cyclones to hit the country within the month.

A satellite image of the Philippines from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration taken at 5:30 am on November 11 shows that Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) is much bigger than it is in Riego’s picture. Another satellite image of the country from PAGASA taken at 5:20 pm on November 12 also does not bear any similarities to Riego’s photo. Both pictures do not show 4 tropical cyclones inside or on the way to the PAR and another 3 exiting the country.

201112-ulysses-pag-asa-satellite-fact-check-full-post

According to Gerry Bagtasa, a professor at the University of the Philippines-Diliman Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology, the image in the post appears edited. Bagtasa told Rappler in an email that tropical cyclones (TC) are distinctive in a satellite image, because the TC itself has a cloud field and non-cloudy conditions around it.

“In the image, there are several cloud spots in the West Philippine Sea, those are not TCs, the clouds in Visayas is not Ulysses and not a TC as well, the ‘Vicky’ and ‘Warren’ look like TCs, but TCs cannot be that close to each other, that’s why I think the photo is edited,” Bagtasa said. He also said that although consecutive TCs are not rare, they would still be a few days apart.

The names Vicky, Warren, Yoyong, and Zosimo are part of the official TC names given by PAGASA for 2020. However, PAGASA only gives local names to tropical cyclones when they enter or form inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

Ulysses left the PAR at 9:30 am on Friday, November 13. – with reports from Margarita Gonzalez and Vernise Tantuco/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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