Dec 14, 2012

What do public storm warning signals mean?

Am I the only one who is not fully taking heed to the Public Storm Warning Signals? My city just went through the very eye of the super typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha) last week. It was the most surreal typhoon I ever had the misfortune to experience. The harrowing experience made me want to educate myself more fully on the implications of those public storm warning signals which I only half-listened to before.
Public storm warning signals are meant to prepare the public mentally for the coming storm. The various signals represent varying meteorological conditions, potential damages and recommended precautionary measures.The following is from PAGASA.
What the storm public warning signals mean in terms of meteorological conditions:
A Public Storm Warning Signal #1 means that in at least 36 hours, winds of 30-60 kph and/or intermittent rains are to be expected.
A PSWS #2 means that in at least 24 hours, winds of 60-100 kph is on the way.
A PSWS #3 means that in at least 18 hours, winds of 100 to 185 kph may be expected.
A PSWS #4 means that in at least 12 hours, winds greater than 185 kph may be expected.

What the storm public warning signals mean in terms of wind impact:
Winds howling at 30-60 kph could break the twigs and branches of small trees, tilt or topple banana plants, partially unroof houses which are made of very light materials (such as cogon and nipa) and damage rice crops of flowering stages.
Summary: very light or no damage at all

Winds of 60-100 kph are strong enough to tilt or break some coconut trees, uproot a few big trees, topple over many banana plants, adversely affect rice and corn plantations, partially or totally unroof houses made of nipa and cogon and peel off old galvanized iron roofings.
Summary: light to moderate damage

Winds roaring at 100-185 kph are powerful enough to break or destroy many coconut trees, down or uproot a large number of banana plants, incur heavy losses on rice and corn, unroof majority of cogon and nipa houses, cause considerable damage to structures of light to medium construction and bring widespread disruption of electrical power and communication infrastructure.
Summary: moderate to heavy damage in the agricultural and industrial sectors

Winds rushing in full force at speeds exceeding 185 kph would cause extensive damage on entire coconut plantations, uproot many large trees, bring severe losses in rice and corn crops, severely damage residential and industrial buildings of various constructions and severely disrupt electrical distribution and communication services.
Summary: very heavy damage
damage caused by super typhoon pablo in our neighborhood
Super Typhoon Pablo toppled over a large mango tree in our neighborhood, downing electricity in our area for 8 days. We were under public storm warning signal number 3.

What the storm public warning signals mean in terms of precautionary measures:
With public storm warning signal number 1, disaster preparedness is activated to alert status. Business may be carried out as usual except in cases where floods occur. Waves in coastal areas will get bigger and bigger. People are advised to keep watch of the latest weather bulletin issue.

Under public storm warning signal number 2, disaster preparedness organizations are in action to alert their respective communities. Children should not be allowed outdoors. The general public are advised not to travel by air or sea. Small sea crafts are advised not to sail. People are advised to take note of the latest position, direction and intensity of the storm as it may suddenly move closer to the locality.

Under public storm warning signal number 3, disaster preparedness agencies are ready with appropriate response to actual emergencies. Classes in all levels are to be suspended and children should be in strong buildings. People are to stay away from coastal areas and river banks, evacuate from low-lying areas and seek shelter in strong buildings. All sea crafts are grounded.

Under public storm warning signal number 4, disaster preparedness agencies are fully responding to emergencies. Evacuation may be too late under this situation and people are advised to stay indoors, preferably in strong shelters. All travel and outdoor activities must be suspended.


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