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Philippine Storm Signals

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Have you ever wondered what "storm signals" are? Here is a simple explanation of the Philippine storm signal system. First of all, it has little in common with the international EF storm severity scale, and is not nearly as good for predicting damage. However, it is the Philippine method for measuring storms, so you will hear about storm signals if you spend any time in the Philippines.

 

A signal 1 is a tropical disturbance or tropical depression. You may get a little wind, but nothing serious. Winds up to 35 mph may be expected.

 

A signal 2 is a tropical storm is a tropical storm, but isn't strong enough to be classified as a typhoon. Winds may be as high as 60 mph.

 

A signal 3 may be a strong tropical storm or an EF1 or EF2 typhoon. Some damage should be expected, although it will not do much damage to well-built structures. Expect winds between 60 mph and 110 mph.

 

A signal 4 may be an EF3, EF4 or EF5 typhoon. That is a pretty broad range of what might be expected in the way of destruction, from some damage to well-built structures near the path of the eyewall to a wide swath of utter destruction regardless of how well-built the structures are. Winds may be anything above 110 mph. When it made landfall last year, Yolanda had sustained winds of 200 mph and gusts up to 250 mph, but it was still considered a signal 4 storm.

 

As you can see, the Philippine storm signal system is no substitute for the International EF storm severity system for predicting damage potential. The EF scale will give you a much more accurate estimate of storm severity than the Philippine storm signal system. However, it is still good to know what they are talking about when they mention storm signals in the news or in articles.

 

The Philippine Public Storm Warning Signals

 

Public Storm Warning Signals are raised to warn the public of incoming weather disturbances. Once a Storm Signal is raised, conditions are not yet necessarily felt in the given area. The following are the lead times for issuing a Public Storm Signal:

 

•     The weather disturbance is expected in 36 hours once Public Storm Warning Signal No. 1 is raised.

•     The weather disturbance is expected in 24 hours once Public Storm Warning Signal No. 2 is raised.

•     The weather disturbance is expected in 18 hours once Public Storm Warning Signal No. 3 is raised.

•     The weather disturbance is expected in 12 hours once Public Storm Warning Signal No. 4 is raised.

 

Lead time shortens if a new weather bulletin is issued and the area’s Public Storm Signal Warning remains the same.

 

As the weather disturbance moves through the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), Public Storm Signals may be upgraded or downgraded.

 

An area’s given signal number is based on the intensity, size of circulation and the forecast direction, and speed of the tropical storm or typhoon when the Public Storm Warning Signal is raised. Changes in intensity, size of circulation, or movement of the tropical cyclone also determines the change of the Public Storm Warning Signal in a given area.

 

Public Storm Warning Signal No. 1

 

Meteorological Conditions:

 

•     A tropical cyclone will affect an area.

•     Winds of 30-60 kph is expected.

•     Intermittent rains may be expected in at least 36 hours. (When the tropical cyclone develops very close to an area, a shorter lead time of the occurrence of the winds will be specified in the warning bulletin.)

 

Impact of the Winds:

 

•     Twigs and branches of small trees may be broken.

•     Some banana plants may be tilted or uprooted.

•     Some houses of very light materials may be partially unroofed.

•     Only very light or no damage may be sustained by areas affected.

•     Rice crops in flowering stage may suffer significant damage.

 

Precautionary Measures:

 

•     When the tropical cyclone intensifies and moves closer, this warning signal number may be upgraded.

•     The waves on coastal waters may gradually develop and swell.

•     The people are advised to listen to the latest severe weather bulletin issued by PAGASA every six hours.

•     Business may be carried out as usual except when floods occur.

•     Disaster preparedness units are activated to alert status.

 

Public Storm Warning Signal No. 2

 

Meteorological Conditions:

 

•     A tropical cyclone will affect an area.

•     Winds of greater than 60 kph and up to 100 kph may be expected in at least 24 hours.

 

Impact of the Winds:

 

•     Some coconut trees may tilt; some of them may break.

•     Few big trees may be uprooted.

•     Many banana plants may be downed.

•     Rice and corn crops may be affected.

•     A large number of houses made of light materials may be unroofed.

•     Old galvanized iron roofing may be peeled off.

•     In general, the winds may bring light to moderate damage to the exposed communities.

 

Precautionary Measures:

 

•     The sea and coastal waters are dangerous to small seacraft.

•     Special attention should be given to the latest position, direction and movement speed, and intensity of the storm as it moves toward an area.

•     The public especially people traveling by sea and air are cautioned.

•     Outdoor activities of children should be postponed.

•     Secure properties before the signal is upgraded.

•     Disaster preparedness agencies/organizations are in action to alert their communities.

 

Public Storm Warning Signal No. 3

 

Meteorological Conditions:

 

•     A tropical cyclone will affect an area.

•     Winds of greater than 100 kph up to 185 kph may be expected in at least 18 hours.

 

Impact of the Winds:

 

•     Many coconut trees may be broken or destroyed.

•     Almost all banana plants may be downed and a large number of trees may be uprooted.

•     Rice and corn crops may suffer heavy losses.

•     Majority of light material houses may be unroofed or destroyed. There may be considerable damage to structures of light to medium construction.

•     There may be widespread disruption of electrical power and communication services.

•     In general, moderate to heavy damage may be experienced, particularly in the agricultural and industrial sectors.

 

Precautionary Measures:

 

•     The weather condition is dangerous to the communities affected.

•     The sea and coastal waters will be very dangerous to all sea craft.

•     Travel is very risky especially by air and sea.

•     People are advised to seek shelter in strong buildings, evacuate low-lying areas, and stay away from the coasts and riverbanks.

•     Watch out for the passage of the eye of the typhoon indicated by a sudden occurrence of fair weather immediately after very bad weather, with very strong winds coming generally from the north.

•     When the eye of the typhoon hit the community, do not venture away from the safe shelter because after one to two hours, the worst weather will resume, with the very strong winds coming from the south.

•     Classes in all levels should be suspended and children should stay in the safety of strong buildings.

•     Disaster preparedness and response agencies/organizations are in action with appropriate response to emergency.

 

Public Storm Warning Signal No. 4

 

Meteorological Conditions:

 

•     A very intense typhoon will affect the area.

•     Very strong winds of more than 185 kph may be expected in at least 12 hours.

 

Impact of the Winds:

 

•     Coconut plantations may suffer extensive damage.

•     Many large trees may be uprooted.

•     Rice and corn plantation may suffer severe losses.

•     Most residential and institutional buildings of mixed construction may be severely damaged.

•     Electrical power distribution and communication services may be severely disrupted.

•     Damage to affected communities can be very heavy.

 

Precautionary Measures:

 

•     The situation is potentially very destructive to the community.

•     All travels and outdoor activities should be cancelled.

•     Evacuation to safer shelters should have been completed.

•     The area is very likely to be hit directly by the eye of the typhoon.

•     As the eye of the typhoon approaches, the weather will worsen continuously, with winds increasing to its strongest coming generally from the north.

•     A sudden improvement of the weather with light winds will be experienced, which means the area is under the eye of the typhoon.

•     Depending on the eye’s diameter and movement speed, this improved weather may last for an hour or two.

•     As the eye moves out of the area, weather conditions will worsen, with strong winds generally coming from the south.

•     The disaster coordinating councils concerned and other disaster response organizations are now fully responding to emergencies.  

 

http://www.gov.ph/crisis-response/the-philippine-public-storm-warning-signals/

Edited by Headshot

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