LEGAZPI CITY— The disaster preparedness and response capabilities of various disaster councils in Bicol would be enhanced following the putting up of a Doppler radar system in the island province of Catanduanes.
The weather instrument is a P1.6-billion project granted by the Japanese government through the Japan International Cooperating Agency (JICA) which involves the construction of three new Doppler radars in Virac, Catanduanes, Aparri, Cagayan, and Guian, Eastern Samar.
The radar system in Virac would be the first to be established and all three radars are expected to be completed in September 2012.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, who is also the chairman of the Regional Development Council (RDC) Bicol, said the weather equipment is one of the biggest technological boost to its disaster preparedness and response capability of various disaster councils.
He said the kick off of the JICA-funded doppler radars for the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAGASA) would allow for more advance warning on the rainfall content of approaching meteorological events.
Currently, Pagasa is able to provide warnings on wind strength and relies on detection for rainfall by the use of rain gauges.
The doppler radars are state-of-the-art technology, which have four major components: meteorological radar system; meteorological data display system; meteorological data satellite communications system (VSAT), and a radar building.
The radar would be housed in an eight-storey concrete tower.
It has a low maintenance system with its transmitter needing change every 15 years as compared to every year for the Dopplers in Subic and Tagaytay, which cost only P89 million each against the almost P350 million for the JICA project.
The Doppler radar system could detect rainfall before they fall giving disaster authorities more accurate information and more lead time to do preparedness measures.
He said since the Doppler radar would be installed in Catanduanes, it will give disaster authorities here a two-hour lead time to undertake mitigating disaster scenarios.
Salceda said “given our recent experience with PAGASA warning system, this would greatly enable our province to achieve our zero casualty goal during disasters while saving our province 32 percent in expenses for preemptive evacuation as we could more skillfully target our effort.”
The project is partly triggered by the Reming/Milenyo disaster in 2006 and accelerated by the Ondoy/Pepeng in 2009.
He said Albay has been vigorously advocating for this weather equipment even if the facilities would be located in Catanduanes.