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article imageProject Noah says storm surge warning out 2 days before landfall

By Leo Reyes     Nov 13, 2013 in Environment
A Philippine weather monitoring agency says a storm surge warning has been issued two days before typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in Phl.) made landfall in Guiuan town in central Philippines last weekend.
Project Noah, a government weather monitoring group attached to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), issued the warning two days before the landfall of typhoon Haiyan, a super typhoon that nearly wiped out the entire city of Tacloban in central Philippines last Friday.
Typhoon Haiyan, packing wind of more than 300 kph flattened a wide area in central Philippines, killing thousands of people and destroying vital infrastructure along its path.
Mahar Lagmay, who heads Project Noah said the warning was issued ahead of the typhoon landfall and promptly communicated the information to appropriate government agencies, advising the public "that the water will rise by up to five meters in some areas."
Philippine President Benigno Aquino has blamed some local government units for their failure to evacuate people in the low lying and coastal areas and for lack of preparation despite warnings from DOST and the national disaster agency of the government.
In the aftermath of the deadly typhoon, some people took turns in blaming the president for the widespread devastation brought about by typhoon Haiyan, saying that they have not been properly warned by some local government units of the impending catastrophe.
But it turned out that Project Noah, through the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has actually issued the warning on the danger of a possible storm surge.
It appears the problem lies on the way the warning was disseminated, causing confusion among local government units and the public as well.
In the announcement, Project Noah warned the public about possible "storm surge." a term the public is quite unfamiliar with.
Tacloban City Councilor Cristina “Kring-Kring” Gonzales-Romualdez, who survived the onslaught of the killer typhoon along with her Mayor husband Alfred Romualdez and their two daughters, said it was more of a tsunami. She also said that they were warned of storm surge but not tsunami.
“Even in science, we don't even know that a tsunami can be caused by a storm. Did it ever happen in the past? We were warned about a storm surge but we were not warned about a tsunami,” Cristina said.
The use of the term "storm surge" has caused confusion even in the academe in the wake of the extent of devastation typhoon Haiyan has caused.
University of the Philippines professor Raquel Fortun questioned the use of the term “storm surge,” saying that a more familiar term should have been used. She also inquired if it can be called "tidal wave" instead.
“Even so if that's what the masa can understand can’t we ease up on the science?” she asked.
Lagmay admitted that using the word "tsunami" instead of "storm surge" in the advisory could have forced people in the coastal areas to flee for safety but it would have been a lie because the truth is that it was really not a tsunami.
Tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, generally an ocean or a large lake while storm surge is an offshore rise of water caused by wind.
More about typhoon haiyan, typhoon yolanda, storm surge, Tsunami
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