By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Before Typhoon Gener hit Baguio City on Monday, I went home immediately and tucked tarpaulins over our main door and front windows to protect the house from the storm wind and rainwater. I did it just in time for Gener arrival with its strong rains and wind.
Typhoon Gener drove city residents crazy because of the continous strong rains and wind for days. It was good that classes in the college where I teach were suspended from Tuesday to Friday, as Gener’s rain was just too heavy to bear. During the break that typhoon Gener caused, I tried to review how typhoons are determined by PAGASA.
According to Pagasa, typhoons are classified into tropical depressions, tropical storms, typhoons, and super typhoons. Tropical depressions have sustained winds of 55 to 64 kilometer per hour (kph); Tropical storms have 65 to 119 kph; Typhoons have 120 to 185 kph; and, Supertyphoons exceed 185 kph.
It must be pointed out that the basis is more on sustained winds in kilometers per hour. However, typhoon intensity is also determined by how destructive and costly they had been to lives, property, infrastructures among others.
In the history of Philippine typhoons, one of the most destructive was Typhoon Thelma in November 1991. There were at least 5,101 to 8,000 people who died in the typhoon-related accidents. Ondoy in September 2009 which left PhP11 billion worth of damage to property. That same year, from September 30 to October 14, Typhoon Pepeng also caused damages worth PhP11 billion.
The wettest typhoon, measured by the volume of its rainfall was listed in July 1991. In our city, it was recorded as over 1,168 mm or 46 inches of rainfall in 24 hours.
It is interesting to note then that the more heavy rainfall or precipitation a typhoon brings it follows that all the waterways swell. The rain, pound and soak the ground that causes it to loosen and by sheer weight slips into landslides. Such landslides and more water for flashfloods would surely cause damage to lives and property. It was proven many times thru history, not only in the Cordillera region but in the whole nation as well.
Comparing Typhon Gener to other destructive and costly typhoons, it can be said that Gener is not among them. By Tyhoon Gener’s victims alone in our region: there were four dead; four injured; and two missing. Damages to agricultural farms and infra-structures projects are on-going though. Even the rainfall recorded from Gener’s ranged from 246.4 mm to 464 mm in 24 hours from August 1 and August 2, respectively. Such was more than the standard average of 19.3 mm per hour that Pagasa established.
But I believe that the gauge of rainfall should not be the basis for the wettest. It should be the continuous, non stop rainfall. The longer the rain falls, the more possible damage to lives and property, and incidence of flash floods and landslides.
Typhoons taught lessons to the people and the government particularly like that regular cleaning of waterways should be ensured to keep it open clear of any blockage. This way at least lessens landslides and flash floods. Of course the landslide prone areas should also be stengthened by various infra-structures. Especially that the Cordillera’s six provinces and the City of Baguio are listed by government as among the top landslide prone areas. # nordis.net