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DOST eyes 48-hour storm surge forecasts capability by December

By Juzel D. Dangayan

MANILA, Oct. 28 (PNA) — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is targeting to increase its storm surge forecasts or warning capability during tropical cyclones to 48 hours by December, this year.

"We have a commitment to complete this by December, but we're prioritizing the coastal areas," DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said at the sidelines of the Philippines-United States Joint Science and Technology Committee Meeting held Tuesday at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.

Montejo said it is still uncertain whether the storm surge forecasts for all areas will be completed by the target date, although they have already passed half of the target.

Storm surge refers to a wall of seawater pushed inland by a tropical cyclone, like the one generated by super typhoon "Yolanda" in Leyte when it hit Eastern Visayas in November last year.

The storm surge forecasts will provide residents living near seashores enough time to get ready for an expected inundation and seek safer grounds.

At present, DOST aims to issue the forecast or warning at least 48 hours ahead of an approaching tropical cyclone. It would list the names of localities expected to experience storm surges and tide with a combined height of up to two meters or higher.

According to Montejo, the forecasts are currently being assessed through the IBM Blue Gene Supercomputer, based at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City.

The storm surge warning system is part of the DOST's Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment for Hazards) (Project NOAH), specifically through the DREAM-LiDAR (Disaster Risk Exposure Assessment and Mitigation-Light Detection and Ranging). It is being implemented by the Philippines-United States Joint Science and Technology Committee.

Aside from the long-time friendship between the Philippines and the US, Montejo said the technology and science collaboration between the two countries is mostly due to the recognition of global problems such as diseases and global warming — an acceptance that one region's problems may also affect another country far away.

He also said that the project was pushed by the State Visit of President Benigno S. Aquino III to the US in 2012. (PNA)

SCS/JLD

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