Typhoon Frank (Fengshen) ravaged the Philippines today. At least 80 people were confirmed dead as of posting but this number is expected to rise. A Sulpicio Lines passenger ship, MV Princess of the Stars, with more than 700 passengers capsized off Romblon. As soon as I read the news by sms from the Philippines, I hurriedly booted my notebook to check the PAGASA website and verify the typhoon status. PAGASA is the acronym for Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. PAGASA coincidentally means HOPE in the Filipino vernacular. The government office is supposed to be the forecasting authority in times of calamities such as typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis in the country.
My jaw dropped when the laptop screen gave me this:
It read: “The connection has timed out/The server at http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph is taking too long to respond…Try Again.”
So I did try again, and again and again and again and again and again… After the nth refresh, I finally succeeded. The PAGASA site announced:
Public Storm Warning Signals elsewhere now lowered.
Residents in low lying areas and near mountain slopes under typhoon signals are advised to take all the necessary precautions against possible flashfloods and landslides. Likewise, those living in coastal areas under signals 2 and 3 are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by this typhoon.
Typhoon “Frank” will continue to enhance the Southwest Monsoon and bring rains over the Western sections of Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao which may trigger flashfloods and landslides.
The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 5:00 p.m. today.
How vague can a weather warning get? Where is elsewhere? What do “take all necessary precautions” and “take appropriate actions” mean? What should people do to make it “appropriate”?
I can’t help but compare PAGASA with its counterpart in Hong Kong, the HK Observatory. It is super hot here today. The HK Observatory through its website warned:
VERY HOT WEATHER WARNING
Very Hot Weather Warning
The Very Hot Weather Warning is now in force.
The Hong Kong Observatory is forecasting very hot weather
in Hong Kong tomorrow. The risk of heatstroke is high.
When engaged in outdoor work or activities, do drink plenty
of water and avoid over exertion. If not feeling well, take
a rest in the shade or cooler place as soon as possible.
People staying indoors without air-conditioning should keep
windows open as far as possible to ensure that there is
The Hong Kong Observatory advises that prolonged exposure
under sunlight is to be avoided. Loose clothing, suitable
hats and UV-absorbing sunglasses can reduce the chance of
sunburn by solar ultraviolet radiation.
Swimmers and those taking part in outdoor activities should
use a sunscreen lotion of SPF 15 or above, and should
re-apply it frequently.
Now, that is very specific! People are instructed about what to do and what not to do. The advisory even gives suggestion to swimmers: use SPF 15 sunscreen lotion! My God, we have a killer typhoon in the Philippines. More than 80 are dead (and counting)… More than 20 typhoons hit the country every year, yet PAGASA can only advise to “TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION!!!”
Read similar post at duskfading’s blog