Typhoon in 3… 2…1
Just when the Christmas celebrations here in the Philippines begin to ramp up, and the spirit of the season is upon everyone, Mother Nature decides to make an appearance and remind us all that Typhoon Season is only a synthetic, man-made “nomenclature” and that she remains in total control (along with Al Gore). We have had a quiet year “typhoon wise,” and there have been very few weather complaints all season long, except for those related to the lack of rain in some areas.
Earlier last week, I noticed a rather inconspicuous “blob” located within the rather inactive “Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone”, more commonly referred to as the ITCZ in meteorological circles. I went on to mention in some of my social media circles that we could be seeing some rain in the near future. Then just three days ago, I began to wonder why we hadn’t heard from PAGASA or the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) in Hawaii about this “suspect” cloud mass that was brewing in the ITCZ just to the south of Guam. Then, about 12 hours after I mentioned that JTWC must be vacant due to some holiday party, they issued a Formation Alert on the area in question. And now, here it is just barely 3 days later and we are looking at a rather strong typhoon on our doorstep. In all seriousness, me and many of my peers felt that all agencies were asleep on this one, especially PAGASA, who seemingly just broke from holiday celebrations yesterday, and issued their first public guidance.
Yesterday morning, I printed some storm information for our barangay captain, and this morning I provided him with an updated forecast. While he said he has been trying to get updated by way of news on the TV, it is difficult and that he appreciated my timely information. He told me that since I gave him the heads-up, he has already been in contact with all his barangay officials and everyone in the village has been given the “official” notice to be prepared, even before PAGASA issued Signal One (36 hour warning) for our area.
I think our barangay captain feels some relief that he can always be one step ahead when it comes to the weather guessing game, because he has his own private information source (me) in addition to the “Official” source (PAGASA), which makes him look all the better. And when the local cable company fails to deliver timely information, he also has me, which I know makes him feel like he has a safety net of sorts, when it comes to protecting the citizens in his village.
And with that, I can also be proud because in reality, how many barangay captains in the Philippines has their own personal weather guesser? I am definitely a rarity. Actually, there are a few of us (retired weather guys) scattered about the Philippines, but we are still rare considering the entire demographic.
For anyone interested, there are several sources that provide weather information for the Philippine Area of Responsibility (AOR) in addition to official sources and include some non-official privatized sources. You can contact me for further information via this blog.
For those who may not know, I retired after over 25 years in the business of meteorology with both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. National Weather Service.