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In meteorology, the life cycle of a tropical cyclone starts with cloud clusters that develop into a low pressure area (LPA). Once this LPA intensifies, it becomes a tropical cyclone, the general term for “bagyo”. This tropical cyclone is then classified based on its wind speed.

Through the years, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has used three official tropical cyclone categories: Tropical Depression, Tropical Storm and Typhoon.

Yolanda, with the international name Haiyan, which made its landfall in the country last November 2013, is remembered as one of the strongest typhoons last year. The Visayas area was largely affected, where storm surges caused massive destruction to lives and properties.

Days before the first anniversary of Yolanda, the Typhoon Committee of PAGASA has decided to revise the classification of tropical cyclones, adding the category “Super Typhoon” on its list. The new tropical cyclone classifications are as follows:

Tropical Depression (TD) has maximum sustained winds of up to 61 kilometers per hour, equivalent to up to 17.1 meters per second and up to 33 nautical miles per hour.

Tropical Storm (TS) packs 62 to 118 kilometers per hour or 17.2 to 32.6 meters per second. If measured in knots, it will reach 34 to 64 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, a Severe Tropical Storm will only be applicable for the International Warning for Shipping, and will not be used for general public dissemination unlike the other categories.

Typhoon (TY) is used in identifying a tropical cyclone with wind speeds 118 to 220 kilometers per hours, equivalent to 32.7 to 61.1 meters per second or 64 to 120 knots.

Super Typhoon (STY) has maximum sustained winds of more than 220 kilometers per hour or more than 61.1 meters per second. STY is as powerful as 120 nautical miles per hour.

PAGASA explained that the revision aims to emphasize the intensity of a tropical cyclone and the threat of its impacts. Using the term “Super Typhoon” will also escalate the sense of urgency and community response in times of an approaching storm.

However, PAGASA Weather Forecaster Samuel Duran stated that the usage of the term Super Typhoon will be effective in 2015.

For BLOG“Super Typhoon” soon to be an official PAGASA term

We’ve read and heard slogans about how saving the environment can also save the planet. But how do we attain such a seemingly ambitious goal? The answer is by breaking it down into simple earth-friendly changes we can easily incorporate into our daily routine. Here are some practical steps in going green.

Kick the plastic habit.
Sudden floods have long been the bane of metro living, especially during the rainy season. And it doesn’t take a tropical cyclone to cause water level to rise; just a bout of afternoon thunderstorms is enough to cause massive floods and heavy traffic all over the city.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, a non-government waste and pollution watchdog, waste is one of the major causes of flooding as these clog drainage systems. Metro Manila’s daily waste weighs in at an alarming 8,601 tons per day and is estimated to rise to 9,060 tons per day in 2015.

That is why the group supports the implementation of Republic Act 9003, an act providing for an ecological solid waste management program. The coalition’s major projects include Balik Bayong, which encourages consumers to carry their purchases in a bayong or a reusable bag instead of plastic, which add to the problem of non-biodegradable waste. In fact, EcoWaste has been actively pushing for the banning of plastic bags with the help of local government units. Cities like Muntinlupa, Las Piñas and Quezon City have banned the use of plastic bag, especially in wet markets.

Eat sustainable food.
Greenpeace, another environmental group that aims to change attitudes and behavior of people on protecting and conserving the environment, says that eating fruits and vegetables is more eco-friendly than eating meat. According to a 2006 report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the forms of transport in the planet combined. Moreover, forests are being destroyed to make room for pastures to feed these animals, killing off thousands of trees that mitigate floods and global warming.

If you want to take eating green a step further, Greenpeace suggests growing your own produce in your backyard to ensure that your veggies, fruits and herbs are pesticide-free.

Cook with minimum energy.
Eco-friendly cooking begins with the right equipment. Greenpeace suggests that before buying large appliances, you should check and compare their energy ratings to know how many kilowatt-hours of energy they use up per month.

Compared to metal pans, glass dishes heat up more quickly, using less time and energy for cooking. Also remember that the bottom of your pan or pot should be the same size as the burner to use the minimum amount of energy.

Before cooking, thaw frozen foods first. And when boiling water, put a lid on the pan to make it heat up faster. Turn down the heat after water boils. Lightly boiling water is the same temperature as water in a rolling boil.

Store food smart.
Greenpeace says no to plastic and suggests using reusable glass containers for storing food in the refrigerator. Speaking of refrigerators, do you know that they use more energy than any other appliance in your home? Here are a few tips to minimize their energy consumption:

• The fridge’s temperature should be kept at 38 to 42°F (3 to 5°C), the freezer at 0 to 5°F (-17 to -15°C).
• Do not open your refrigerator door repeatedly. Before opening it, first decide on which item to get to avoid energy wastage.
• Don’t place your fridge in a warm spot, such as near the heater or in direct sunlight.
• For its efficient operation, clean the condenser coils at the back or bottom of your fridge at least once a year.
• Keep the door gasket clean to make sure that dried food and residue won’t damage its seal.
• Remarkably, energy consumption by the most efficient refrigerator models is largely unrelated to their size. The most efficient 14 cu. ft. fridge on the market today only consumes 106kWh/y. These efficient refrigerators are about 5 to 15% more expensive to buy, but will save you loads of money and energy.

Make the most of your bathroom time.
Each time we use the bathroom, it’s inevitable to use water. To make sure we don’t waste our most valuable resource, Greenpeace dishes out some ways on how we can be eco-warriors even during bathroom time:

• Use a pail for flushing or install dual-flush toilets to minimize the amount of water used. Use your wastebasket for miscellaneous bathroom wastes. Flushing garbage wastes water and can cause treatment problems.
• Mend any dripping taps or leaking pipes immediately. Don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth or shaving.
• A shower (about 10 minutes) uses 2/3 of the amount of water as a bath.
• Install water-saving devices for your taps and showers. Energy saving shower heads can save up to 20% of hot water usage and cut down your electricity bills. A faucet aerator will reduce the flow without reducing the water pressure.

By making these steps part of your daily habits, you’re well on your way to saving the planet—a task that doesn’t need superheroes to achieve, but small, individual acts that will make a difference in the long run.

Sources: ECOWASTE COALITION | Greenpeace Philippines | Greenpeace USA


Geographically speaking, Metro Manila serves as a catch basin of water from the highlands. There are even areas in the metropolis that are below sea level, including Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela, as noted by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino.

What else might be causing the floods? Garbage-clogged drainages are a big source of the problem, with informal settlers along waterways as major contributors to such blockage.

Aside from the 77 listed ongoing road projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), thunderstorms bringing heavy rains over Metro Manila have compounded the problem, affecting commuters and motorists, especially during rush hour.

During or after heavy rains, we advise motorists and commuters against passing through the top ten crucial areas that are most prone to flooding.

1. España Boulevard, Manila
With Manila’s high concentration of colleges, universities and offices, a vast number of students and employees take this route. The opening and dismissal of students and employees dictate the traffic flow in the area, which worsens when rain pours, causing floods, particularly on the intersection of España and Nicanor Reyes Street.

2. Burgos to Manila City Hall Vicinity
MMDA identifies the culprits behind flooding in this area: clogged drainage system and the general public’s bad habits of indiscriminate trash disposal.

3. R. Papa to Rizal Avenue in Manila
MMDA advises motorists of all types of vehicles against passing R. Papa to Rizal Avenue during or after the rains. This is because floodwater goes knee-deep or even higher, due to the waters from Caloocan City flowing towards Estero de Obrero.

4. Quirino Avenue to Padre Faura St.; Lawton Plaze and Taft Avenue
A few government buildings as well as the Philippine General Hospital, the World Health Organization Western Pacific Region headquarters, Manila Science High School, UP-Manila, and numerous hotels are just a few points of interest in this area, which can be reached via a two-lane road going north and south. Just imagine the congestion of traffic, compounded during and after a heavy downpour.

5. Roxas Boulevard
Commuters and car-owners passing through the main thoroughfares along EDSA find themselves in a traffic deadlock in Roxas Boulevard as vehicles move at a snail’s pace. To keep this area from being flooded, Tolentino swears by using sandbags.

6. Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay
Located in the reclamation areas, the eight-lane road Macapagal Boulevard is often used to travel towards Cavite to the south and the SM Mall of Asia to the north. MMDA reports clogging of the drainage canals in this area as the reason for its recent flooding incidents.

7. EDSA – Taft
Being a terminal hub for thousands of commuters (the MRT-Taft Station, LRT EDSA-Taft and Baclaran stations), this area also serves as the gateway of motorists from the south going to the north. This EDSA Segment records knee-deep floods, making the area not passable to light vehicles.

8. EDSA Megamall
Majority of the buses pass EDSA and this mall serves as a terminal for commuters. As traffic congestion happens, daily commuters and motorists are affected especially when combined with heavy downpour.

9. EDSA – Camp Aguinaldo Gate 3
According to Engineer Maxima Quiambao, head of the MMDA Flood Control and Sewerage Management Office, there is a mismatch in the sizes of the drainage pipes in this area. The pipes in Camp Aguinaldo, which are 36 inches in diameter, are connected to 24-inch diameter pipes along the main avenue. To remedy the issue, the MMDA has positioned a vacuum truck in the mentioned area to help drain floodwater during heavy rains.

10. North Avenue in front of Trinoma
Being the north-end of the MRT line and having two big malls, Trinoma and SM City North EDSA, this area serves as a transport hub for commuters going to northern destinations such as Bulacan and Caloocan city. Floodwater level can reach up to 8 inches in this area, according to the MMDA.

Flood in Ayala Avenue and Makati Avenue intersection. Photo courtesy of Ronnie @imronnie, @MMDA.
Flood in Ayala Avenue and Makati Avenue intersection. Photo courtesy of Ronnie @imronnie, @MMDA.

Did you experience any flooding in your area or while commuting? We’d like to see your photos! Share with us your flood-photos by posting on our PanahonTV Facebook page.

For your complete reference, here are the 22 flood-prone areas released by the MMDA:

España-Antipolo-Maceda in Manila
P. Burgos-Manila City Hall vicinity
R. Papa-Rizal Avenue, Manila

Osmeña-Skyway northbound and southbound, Makati
EDSA Pasong Tamo, Magallanes Tunnel
Don Bosco, Makati
Buendia-South Superhighway southbound
Buendia-South Superhighway northbound

EDSA-North Avenue, Quezon City
Philcoa Area, Quezon City
Quezon Avenue, Victory avenue/Biak na Bato
EDSA – Camp Aguinaldo Gate 3
North Avenue in front of Trinoma
C-5 Bayani Road
NLEX Balintawak – Cloverleaf

C-5-Bagong Ilog

West Service Road, Merville, Paranaque
C-5 Mckinley Road
Buendia extension Macapagal avenue – World Trade

East Service Road, Sales Street

EDSA Megamall

C-5-BCDA, Taguig City


The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) held the third National Climate Conference at the Traders Hotel last month, aiming to encourage government and public response to climate-related risks and disasters. Scientists, local government units (LGUs) and members of the media participated in the discussion of the latest findings on climate-related issues through academic research. This year, the current state of climate and disaster in the Philippines was laid out, including its past trends, projected changes, and their implications to risk and vulnerabilities of various sectors. The main goal of the conference was to incorporate science in addressing the future impacts of climate change on a local scale.

Climate Trends and Disaster Risk Reduction
Based on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there is an observed trend of the warming of the atmosphere and ocean. Coupled with this is the increase of greenhouse gasses recorded in atmosphere, which PAGASA Deputy Administrative for Research and Development, Dr. Flaviana Hilario, stated was a clear indication of human influence on climate change. Its possible impacts are water shortage, and decrease in agricultural production and food security.

Aside from the 0.57-degree-Celsius increase in the annual mean temperature in atmosphere during the last 59 years, there was also an increase in the number of hot and warm nights while cold days and cold nights are decreasing and extreme rainfall events during the wet season. Based on PAGASA’s observation, tropical cyclones that entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) have become highly variable, but there is no indication of increase in the frequency. However, a slight increase in the number of tropical cyclones with maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour and above, which are classified under typhoon category, was exhibited during El Niño events from 1971 to 2010. Hilario adds that such information will benefit various sectors in hazard preparedness, especially in infrastructure vulnerability. Flood, Landslide and Storm Surges Maps are some of the projects of the Department of Science and Technology that can be utilized for planning purposes.

Increased Population
Aside from the Philippines’ perilous geographical location, which makes the country prone to weather disturbances, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, the increase in population also puts more people at risk. Since population has reached the 100-million mark, people are spilling over to the hazardous areas, building their homes along shorelines, which are prone to storm surges. According to Manila Observatory Associate Director for Research, Dr. Gemma Teresa Narisma, most tropical cyclones in the country are destructive and these could be even be more fatal with the population increase.

Disaster Response
Cited as a prime example of disaster response was the Hinatuan Municipality in Surigao del Sur. Vice Mayor Cristina Camba and Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Josephine Lapaciros shared how they were able to adapt to the changing climate through information acquired from PAGASA and other agencies. Through this and partnership with private sectors, the LGU was able to provide early warning devices and systems, allowing them to achieve a zero-casualty status when Typhoons Sendong and Pablo hit Mindanao in 2011 and 2012, respectively. This accomplishment earned the municipality the National Gawad KALASAG for Excellence on Disaster Risk Reduction Management and Humanitarian Assistance in 2013.

Official logo of Climate-Related Risks & Disasters from National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL)
Official logo of Climate-Related Risks &
Disasters from National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines

Typhoon Vongfong, locally named Ompong, has been classified under Category 5: Super Typhoon status by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).

Since Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, Ompong is the strongest tropical cyclone to approach Asia.

In comparison, Typhoon Yolanda, which remains the strongest tropical cyclone that recently battered the country in recent history (2013), reached maximum sustained winds of 235 kilometers per hour while Ompong’s peak is at 215 kilometers per hour.

Image from
Image from

In the Philippines, no Public Storm Warning Signal has been raised as the typhoon has no direct effect on the country, aside from enhancing the Northeasterly wind flow, bringing rough to very rough sea conditions in the northern and eastern seaboards of Luzon and Visayas.

Even while maintaining its impressive maximum sustained winds for days and going nowhere near the Philippine landmass after spending hours over the sea, Ompong is not intensifying because according to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Aldczar Aurelio, cold and dry air from the higher latitudes are beginning to join in the cyclone’s circulation. Dry air is not conducive to cyclones as weather disturbances feed off warm and moist air to intensify.

Furthermore, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) states that tropical cyclones are strongest when in the tropics. As they move towards the subtropical region and the temperate zone, they start to gradually weaken.

Why Ompong is slow-moving

Aurelio says there are two High Pressure Areas (HPAs) on each side of the typhoon, its ridge hampering its northward movement. When the extension of the anti-cyclone recedes, Ompong will continue its sail towards Japan.

At 13 kilometers per hour moving northward, Bagyong ‘Ompong’ is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Saturday.

Image from PAGASA Weather Bulletin No.5 Typhoon Ompong
Image from PAGASA Weather Bulletin No.7 Typhoon Ompong

Possible Scenarios

Currently, over open water, Ompong fails to have a major impact on the Philippines.

Over Taiwan, its southern portions, which are included in the Philippine Area of Responsibility, might experience strong winds and cloudy skies with light to moderate rains, Aurelio says.

However, Japan is another matter. While recovering from the recent cyclone Phanphone that slammed rains on Central Japan, Super Typhoon Vongfong threatens to make landfall in Japan in the following days.

According to JTWC, based on the current forecast track of Vongfong, the typhoon is moving near or over mainland Japan, which include Tokyo and other major cities. However, the typhoon may weaken considerably as it moves closer and begins to affect the country this weekend until early next week.

The strong winds of Vongfong might also batter Ryukyu Island, including Okinawa this weekend. Come Monday, effects will reach Kyushu, Shikoku and later in Honshu, including Tokyo and Osaka.

Typhoon Ompong is the 15th tropical cyclone this year, and the second this October.

The name Vongfong was contributed by Macau, China, which means wasp or putakti in Tagalog.

It has been used three times in tropical storm category in 2002 and 2008, and in typhoon category this year.

NASA Astronaut G. Reid Wiseman captured the amazing photo of Typhoon #OmpongPH (international name #Vongfong) from the International Space Station.
NASA Astronaut G. Reid Wiseman captured the amazing photo of Typhoon #OmpongPH (international name #Vongfong) from the International Space Station.


Typhoon Ompong with international name Vongfong is tagged as the strongest typhoon in the world for 2014.

According to Meteorologist Jim Andrews of, “Vongfong is the strongest tropical cyclone we’ve had all year anywhere on Earth,” categorized as a super typhoon by the US Naval Observatory’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). Meanwhile the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) described its intensity from very strong to violent, with maximum winds of 215 kilometers per hour and gustiness of 250 kilometers per hour, moving towards Japan at 9 kilometers per hour.

The reason for its decrease in speed is caused by the intensity of rains it brings, and the presence of the High Pressure Area (HPA) in Japan. Still, the typhoon’s destructive winds and inundating rains are expected to hit Mainland Japan.

PH safe from Ompong

But the good news is PAGASA assured that the super typhoon will not directly affect any part of the country, and is expected to be outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) by Saturday morning.

However, it may intensify winds from the northwest and southwest, creating wind convergence over Mindanao, where the Inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ) is located, which has been bringing rains over that area. Converging winds from different paths automatically create clouds that often lead to thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening. This weather system may bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains.

Meanwhile, Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) will also experience light to moderate rains brought by northeast monsoon or the amihan.

Transition Period

During this period, the transition of winds from southwest to northeast is still happening. This is the reason why PAGASA has yet to officially declare the amihan season, associated with dry and cold air, because of the lingering presence of the weak southwest monsoon or habagat, associated with humid and warm air.

MTSAT Image from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
MTSAT Image from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

MTSAT Image from Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)
MTSAT Image from Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)

MTSAT Image from Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)
MTSAT Image from Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)

Sources: PAGASA | JTWC | JMA | NOAA |

They say that when it rains, it pours. The same logic seems to apply to the recent traffic situation here in the metro with sudden rains usually making their grand entrance in the evenings or late afternoons just before rush hour—the perfect recipe for clogged roads, as well as irate commuters and motorists.

But the real question is: why are rains synonymous with heavy traffic? We interviewed the metro traffic experts, also known as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to shed some light on this phenomenon.

Flooding along the streets make them impassable. Blame it on poor waste management, overpopulation, or faulty urban planning, but the fact cannot be denied; we’ve all witnessed, first-hand, how the streets of Manila get easily flooded when there’s a rapid downpour. According to PAGASA, these light to moderate, and occasionally, heavy rains that may persist for two hours, can already trigger flooding especially in low-lying areas like Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela.

Road conditions deteriorate with the flow of rainwater. When the rains are pelting down like there’s no tomorrow, driving conditions are at their worst. Instead of cruising down the highway (within speed limits, of course) drivers are more cautious, navigating their vehicles more slowly. Road visibility is also compromised, as well as the driver’s usual routes. Because some of these may be flooded, alternate routes are taken, which eventually become clogged because everyone else has the same idea.

Rains tend to increase the possibility of road accidents. It’s only right that motorists take extra caution because based on MMDA’s data, are on the rise when the rains come. From January to June 2014, a total of 12 non-fatal road accidents and 137 damages to properties were recorded. These accidents take up road space—and we all know how just one blocked lane can create chaos hundreds of kilometers down the road. Reserve those daredevil maneuvers on the racetrack. Safety first when you’re driving, especially when it’s raining.

Motorcycle drivers make pit stops to wait out the rain. Because of the flooded areas, light vehicles, including motorcycles, don’t dare cross the flood and tend to halt in one area of the road. A lot of them also take cover from the rain under the overpass. When these motorcycles increase in number, they take up road space and cause traffic.

Despite this grim scenario, we are not totally helpless against rains and the inevitable heavy traffic they bring. Don’t let thunderstorms surprise you by monitoring weather updates. Plan your alternative routes early, and if possible, build your travel schedule around those downpour-prone afternoons and evenings so you won’t get caught on the road, in the rain!

Photo from Facebook account of Ran Perez
Photo from Facebook account of Ran Perez