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Gauge-adjusted radar-based rainfall estimation; accumulation period from 6 August (00:80 UTC) to 9 August (20:00 UTC).

Radar-based rainfall estimation from 6 August to 9 August showing the maximum rainfall west of Metro Manila. A shift of the maximum to the east by 20 kms will be more disastrous. Image from [2].

Much has been said about the destruction caused by the Habagat of 2012: it left 95 people dead, 8,428 homes destroyed while 6,706 were damaged and an economic lost to the country which amounted to at least ₱604.63 million (US$14.31 million) [1]. However based on the study by scientists from Germany and the Philippines, we must be thankful because it could have been worse.

Writing in the journal Natural Hazards Earth System Sciences [2], the researchers say that a shift of 20 km to the east would have increased the rainfall in the Marikina River basin by almost 30%. This they say will increase the return period of this habagat to more than 200 years.  Its strength is a rarity that will likely only occur once in more than 200 years. The return period for an “Ondoy” event is 150 years.

Good thing that the habagat of 2012 poured its maximum volume at Manila bay and its actual return period is 50 years (still bad though).

This research would not have been possible if not for the newly “established network of Doppler radars of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and other meteorological data provided through the country’s Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) [2].”

This study highlights the need to have more Doppler radars in the Islands (and of course, more scientists to make sense of the data). According to the authors, “the Philippine radar network demonstrates a huge potential for high-resolution rainfall monitoring as well as for risk mitigation and management in the Philippines.”

The article is open access! It’s a nice read.


[1]  “SitRep No.11 Re: Disease alert on as flood deaths hit 89 by TS “Haikui”,” National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. August 16, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2012 thru Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Philippines_flooding accessed 23 September 2013.

[2] Heistermann, M., Crisologo, I., Abon, C. C., Racoma, B. A., Jacobi, S., Servando, N. T., David, C. P. C., and Bronstert, A.: Brief communication “Using the new Philippine radar network to reconstruct the Habagat of August 2012 monsoon event around Metropolitan Manila”, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 653-657, doi:10.5194/nhess-13-653-2013, 2013.