Friday, October 2, 2009

Typhoon Signals, Lightnings and Safety Points to Remember

After Ondoy hit the big city, it blew most of us back to square one. I hope this research could prevent that from happening again. This is not only for Pepeng, but for the future typhoons to come.

Because when it comes natural calamities, there is only one rule: Be Informed. 
Okay! there are two rules.. and Be prepared.
We don't prepare during the storm where everybody is in panic stage. We prepare BEFORE it people! -when everybody thinks it won't happen.

Let's begin, shall we?

Something about typhoons.
  – You don’t even have to read this, this for elementary students and their assignments :]

According to Wikipedia, a tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones feed on heat released when moist air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor contained in the moist air. They are fueled by a different heat mechanism than other cyclonic windstorms such as nor'easters, European windstorms, and polar lows, leading to their classification as "warm core" storm systems. Tropical cyclones originate in the doldrums near the equator, about 10° away from it.

The term "tropical" refers to both the geographic origin of these systems, which form almost exclusively in tropical regions of the globe, and their formation in maritime tropical air masses. The term "cyclone" refers to such storms' cyclonic nature, with counterclockwise rotation in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise rotation in the Southern Hemisphere. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by names such as hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone.

Typhoons and their signal.
- We hear them all the time, but what are they really?

In the philippines, there are four signals.

Public storm signal number 1 

Winds of 30 - 60 kilometers per hour (kph) may be expected in at least 36 hours or intermittent rains may be expected within 36 hours.

Impact of the Winds

  • Twigs and branches of small trees may be broken.
  • Some banana plants may be tilted or downed.
  • Some houses of very light materials (nipa and cogon) may be partially unroofed.
  • Unless this warning signal is upgraded during the entire existence of the tropical cyclone,  only very light or no damage at all may be sustained by the expose communities.
  • Rice crop, however, may suffer significant damage when it is in its flowering stage.

Precautionary Measures

  • When the tropical cyclone is strong or is intensifying and is moving closer, this
  •     signal may be upgraded to the next higher level.
  • The waves on coastal waters may gradually develop and become bigger and
  •      higher.
  • The people are advised to listen to the latest severe weather bulletin issued by PAGASA every six (6) hours.  In the meantime, business may be carried out as usual except when floods occur.
  • Disaster preparedness is activated to alert status.

Public storm signal number 2  
Winds of greater than 60 kph and up to 100 kph may be expected in at least
    24 hours.
Impact of the Winds

  • Some coconut trees may be tilted with few others broken. 
  • Few big trees may be uprooted. 
  • Many banana plants may be downed. 
  • Rice and corn may be adversely affected. 
  • Large number of nipa and cogon houses may be partially or totally unroofed. 
  • Some old galvanized iron roofings may be peeled off. 
Precautionary Measures
  • The sea and coastal waters are dangerous to small seacrafts. 
  • Special attention should be given to the latest position, the direction and speed of movement and the intensity of the storm as it may intensify and move towards the locality. 
  • The general public especially people traveling by sea and air are cautioned to avoid unnecessary risks. 
  • Outdoor activities of children should be postponed. 
  • Secure properties before the signal is upgraded. 
  • Disaster preparedness agencies/organization are in action to alert their communities. 

Public storm signal number 3 
Winds greater than 100 kph up to 185 kph may be expected in at least 18 hours. 
Impact of the Winds

  • Many coconut trees may be broken or destroyed. 
  • Almost all banana plants may be downed and a large number of trees may be  uprooted. 
  • Rice and corn crops may suffer heavy losses. 
  • Majority of all nipa and cogon houses may be unroofed or destroyed and there may be considerable damage to structures of light to medium construction. 
  • There may be widespread disruption of electrical power and communication services (including the Internet). 
  • In general, moderate to heavy damage may be expected, practically in the agricultural and industrial sectors. 
 Precautionary Measures
  • The disturbance is dangerous to the communities threatened / affected. 
  • The sea and coastal waters will be very dangerous to all types of seacrafts. 
  • Travel is very risky especially by sea and air. 
  • People are advised to seek shelter in strong buildings, evacuate low-lying areas and to stay away from the coasts and river banks. 
  • Watch out for the passage of the "eye" of the typhoon indicated by a sudden occurrence of fair weather immediately after very bad weather with very strong winds coming generally from the north. 
  • When the "eye" of the typhoon hit the community,  do not venture away from the safe shelter because after one(1) to two(2) hours - the worst weather will resume with the very strong winds coming from the south. 
  • Classes in all levels should be suspended and children should stay in the safety of strong buildings and evacuation centers. 
  • Disaster preparedness and response agencies / organizations are in action with appropriate response to actual emergency. 

Public storm signal number 4  
Very strong winds of more than 185 kph may be expected in at least 12 hours.
Impact of the Winds

  • Coconut plantation may suffer extensive damage.
  • Many large trees may be uprooted.
  • Rice and corn plantation may suffer severe losses.
  • Most residential and institutional buildings of mixed construction may be severely damaged.
  • Electrical power distribution and communication services (including Internet) may be severely disrupted.
  • In the overall, damage to affected communities can be very heavy.

Precautionary Measures

  • The situation is potentially very destructive to the community.
  • All travels and outdoor activities should be canceled.
  • -   Evacuation to much safer shelters should have been completed since it may be too late under this situation.
  • With Signal No. 4,  the locality is very likely to be hit directly by the "eye" of the typhoon.  As the "eye" of the typhoon approaches, the weather will continuously worsen with the winds increasing to its strongest coming  generally from the north.  A "lull" or sudden improvement of the weather with light winds will be experienced.  This means that the "eye" of the typhoon is over the locality.  This improved weather may last for1-2 hours - depending on the diameter of the "eye" and the speed of movement.  As the "eye" move out of the locality, the worst weather experienced before the lull will suddenly commence.  This time the very strong winds will come generally from the south.
  •  The Disaster Coordinating Councils concerned and other disaster respons organizations are now fully responding to emergencies and in full readines to immediately response to possible calamity.

Lightning and Thunders.
- Do you know that you can approximate the distance of the lightning from you by its thunders?

 After you see a flash of lightning, count the number of seconds until you hear the thunder. (Use the stop watch or count "one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three" etc.)
Divide the number of seconds you count by 5 to get the number of miles or by 3 to get the number of kilometers. Example, if you counted 30 seconds, the storm is 6 miles or 10 kilometers away from you. - This by the way, is extremely dangerous if you are outside during a thunder storm.

Facts you need to know.
  • Neither lying down crouched nor flat is considered a safe position. According to the National Weather Service: 
"If lightning is in the immediate area, and there is no safe location nearby, get into the lightning desperation position: Crouch down, but do NOT lie down. Bend your knees down while keeping your feet together."
Only the balls of your feet should be touching the ground, and keep your arms near your body with your hands over your ears.
  • Do NOT seek shelter under a tree or in partially open structures such as picnic shelters or dugouts as these are NOT safe.
  • If you have a car nearby, it's best to get into the car, roll up the windows, and do not touch any metal surfaces.
  • Even if you are indoors, the National Weather Service recommends avoiding contact with corded phones, avoid contact with plumbing, stay away from windows and doors, stay away from electrical equipment including TVs and computers, and do not touch concrete floors or walls.
  • No place is absolutely safe from lightning; however, some places are much safer than others. The safest location during lightning activity is an enclosed building. The second safest location is an enclosed metal vehicle, car, truck, van, etc., but NOT a convertible, bike or other topless or soft-top vehicle.
  • Safe Buildings 
A safe building is one that is fully enclosed with a roof, walls and floor, such as a home, school, office building or a shopping center.
  • Unsafe Buildings
Car ports, covered but open garages, covered patio, picnic shelters, beach shacks/pavilions, golf shelters, camping tents, large outdoor tents, baseball dugouts and other partially open structures.
  • Safe Vehicle
A safe vehicle is a hard-topped car, SUV, minivan, bus, tractor, etc. (soft-topped convertibles are not safe). If you seek shelter in your vehicle, make sure all doors are closed and windows rolled up. Do not touch any metal surfaces.
If you're driving when a thunderstorm starts, pull off the roadway. A lightning flash hitting the vehicle could startle you and cause temporary blindness, especially at night.
Do not use electronic devices such as HAM radios or cell phones during a thunderstorm. Lightning striking the vehicle, especially the antennae, could cause serious injury if you are talking on the radio or holding the microphone at the time of the flash.

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