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Taiwan to provide RP with 15 automatic weather stations

By Vicente Labro, Abigail L. Ho
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inquirer Visayas
First Posted 04:19:00 09/30/2009

Filed Under: Ondoy, Flood, Disasters & Accidents, Government, Weather, Technology (general)

MANILA, Philippines?Taiwan is providing the Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) with 15 automatic weather stations (AWS) worth P13.5 million to boost its forecasting capability.

According to the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), the country?s representative agency in Taiwan, the AWS sets will allow PAGASA to access better and on-time weather data.

MECO resident representative Antonio Basilio said in a statement that the two countries agreed to establish and operate a network of 15 AWS nationwide at the 22nd Joint Science and Technology Conference on Sept. 16 here.

These AWS sets?each composed of a data logger, data modem, solar power supply, computer workstation and software?will serve as an early-warning system for typhoons and other weather disturbances.

Under the technical cooperation, Taiwan will provide P13.5 million worth of hardware, including the 15 sets of AWS and peripherals, as well as the necessary training for the personnel.

PAGASA will provide the sites for each of the 15 AWS and identify the personnel who will manage these. It will also shell out P2 million for their installation, operation and maintenance.

Data generated by the AWS network will be shared by both the Philippines and Taiwan.

?Taiwan and the Philippines must really cooperate more actively and deeply with each other in the area of weather forecasting. The AWS project will be a major milestone in the collaboration of both countries to keep their people safer from the onslaught of typhoons and other weather disturbances,? Basilio said.

Taiwan last year donated P10 million worth of equipment to PAGASA to help rehabilitate the agency?s air weather station in Tanay, Rizal.

3 new stations

Mario Peñaranda, PAGASA regional chief in Tacloban, said Tuesday that the agency had started installing new weather stations to replace obsolete systems in Aparri in Cagayan, Virac in Catanduanes and Guiuan in Eastern Samar.

Under the four-year radar improvement project, Peñaranda said PAGASA would replace the existing system with a Doppler radar, which has a 200-kilometer range and could detect strong winds, wind velocity and amount of rainfall.

PAGASA has been criticized for its failure to issue a warning on the amount of rainfall that Tropical Storm ?Ondoy? (international codename: Ketsana) unleashed.

Peñaranda said the project had started in Virac, Catanduanes, but it had yet to be implemented at the Guiuan Radar and Synoptic Station.

Guiuan, located at the southern tip of Eastern Samar facing the Pacific Ocean, is usually used as a point of reference of weather bulletins on typhoons entering the country.

Japanese funding

Peñaranda said a Japanese consultant had inspected the site of the PAGASA station in Guiuan?s Barangay Sapao. The Japan International Cooperation Agency would fund the project.

Nathaniel Servando, PAGASA deputy director of research and development, has placed the total project cost at P700 million to P800 million.

Servando said PAGASA would build a taller radar tower to avoid obstruction caused by mountains.

The agency, he said, would also improve its communications system by using satellite.

Servando said the existing system in Guiuan was installed in late 1990s although the building was repaired in 2004.

He said that other radar improvement projects would be undertaken in Cebu, Tagaytay, Subic, Surigao and South Cotabato.

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