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PostSubject: Weather radar down again   Wed Oct 07, 2009 1:55 pm

Oct 7, 2009
Weather radar down again

MANILA - A STORM threatens to wallop the Philippines but a huge computer that dominates the forecasting room of the nation's weather service is in screensaver mode showing a cartoon pattern of unexploded bombs.

While tropical storm Parma ominously hovers near the main island of Luzon, the computer has no data to receive as the main weather radar on a hilltop in the north-eastern resort of Baguio is out of action - again.

This scenario played out on Tuesday when AFP visited the forecasters in Manila to examine why they failed to predict the ferocity of tropical storm Ketsana which killed nearly 300 people in and around the capital on Sept 26.

'Our old radar has limitations,' said Fredolina Baldonado, a meteorologist at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). 'It has a blind spot to the south and that includes Metropolitan Manila.' This, she said, explained why the forecasters were unable to warn the residents of Manila before 42cm - the heaviest deluge in more than four decades - was dumped on the nation's capital.

Asked why the radar was not working on Tuesday as Filipinos looked to PAGASA for guidance on tropical storm Parma, senior weather forecaster Rene Paciente gave a matter-of-fact explanation about the radar breakdown in Baguio.

A landslide had disturbed the alignment of its antenna, and as a result could not transmit data to the forecaster's headquarters, Mr Paciente said. -- AFP
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