Thursday, November 29, 2012

The new Corregidor weather station

We’re sure that many of you have used or heard the phrase, “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.”  Having lived most of our lives where this is often true, (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan,) we have had to adapt to life in the Philippines where the weather tomorrow will most often be virtually identical to today.  Usually, dry season is sunny most of the time, and when we get clouds they appear and disappear at similar times day after day.  During rainy season the rains are fairly predictable.  Only during storm patterns – LPAs, tropical storms, and typhoons, which predominantly occur during rainy season – does the weather become much less predictable.
Soon after our arrival in October, 2008, we hunted and hunted for a rain gauge, asking our friend Leslie Murray, a long-time Metro Manila resident, for advice.  The best we found was a laboratory beaker in the student section of National Bookstore, so we bought a cheap plastic rain gauge during our first extended visit to the States – July/August 2009.  Frankly, we were quite surprised that we couldn’t find a rain gauge in a country where rain is so prevalent.
Upon our return, we ‘planted’ it behind the house during the remainder of rainy season, the only rain gauge on the island.  We discovered that Metro Manila can experience significantly different amounts of rain from Corregidor, despite being only 25 miles away.  For example, Typhoon Ondoy dropped a record 16.7 inches of rain in Metro Manila in a 12-hour period, whereas we only received five inches during that same time period.  In our experience, Corregidor receives the majority of its rain during the night, soon after sunset and before or soon after sunrise, while we are told that rain begins in Manila much more commonly around four in the afternoon during rainy season.
Having helped us to look for a rain gauge, our friend Leslie was well aware of our interest in the island’s weather. About a year and a half ago, she suggested to her friend, Antonia Loyzaga, the Executive Director of the Manila Observatory, that they consider putting an Automated Weather Station (AWS) on Corregidor as part of the Metro Weather Project.  On Wednesday, November 28, that suggestion became a reality.
The participating partners, Chevron, Globe Telecom, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Manila Observatory, and the Ateneo de Manila University, held an official launch at Corregidor’s Topside.  Sun Cruises did the setup and served a buffet lunch.  In attendance were such honorables as Former Ambassador Juan Rocha, Corregidor Foundation, Inc. Executive Director Artemio Matibag, Filipino-American Memorial Endowment Vice President Leslie Murray, and Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, President of Ateneo University. Guest speakers included representatives of the partners and above mentioned organizations, as well as the Honorable Harry K. Thomas, Jr., United States Ambassador to the Philippines.  We were honored to be mentioned as having unintentionally sparked the idea of setting up this particular weather station.  Also, Ambassador Thomas took the time to praise our book about Steve’s father, saying that he had read it and that HONOR, COURAGE, FAITH: A Corregidor Story was “a labor of love.”
Ironically, most of you, who do not live on Corregidor, will have 24/7 access to the website.  So you can have a better idea of the exact conditions at any moment than we who live here but have very limited access to the internet.  Such are the wonders and woes of modern technology!
Now for some basic facts from the press release provided at the launch ceremony:
There are 30 AWS locations in Metro Manila.  The stations are roughly five kilometers (three miles) apart.  They provide free and near-real-time weather data that can be used to prepare for severe weather conditions such as typhoons, heavy rainfall and flooding.  It has a link app with MMDA to assist drivers in plotting alternate routes when they must be on the roadways during heavy rains.
Almost all of the weather stations are at Chevron service stations.  Data is transmitted via the Globe Telecom network.  Manila Observatory introduced the concept and provides technical and scientific support.  Ateneo University assists in research in the areas of climate change and disaster risk reduction.
Corregidor’s station, although apart from Metro Manila, will be especially important in that “1) It will provide the only source of weather information for the continued conservation of the island’s ecosystem, commemorating the long-history of the friendship between the Philippines and the United States of America; and, 2) It will provide the first source of information on extreme weather which may be approaching Metro Manila from the West Philippine Sea.”  We see this second point as being particularly significant since the prevailing weather travels from southwest to northeast during the rainy season, putting Corregidor squarely in the path of weather headed for Manila.
For the near future the weather station will be located at the Corregidor Inn.  Soon it is to be relocated to its permanent location on one of the towers on Topside, in conjunction with equipment from Globe Telecom.
To access Metro Weather, go to  Station sites can be clicked to view the graphs for a particular location.  By default, the maps for rainfall are shown.  However, radio buttons on the top of the page enable the selection of map views for rainfall, and minimum, average, and maximum temperatures.
On another topic, last weekend Corregidor received a visit from Tess Xerez-Burgos Loanzon and her family.  Tess is the daughter of former Corregidor Foundation, Inc. Executive Director Col. Alfredo Xerez-Burgos.  We wish that we would have been able to spend more time with them than the brief meet-and-greet on the North Dock.  Maybe next time.  We received a post-trip email from Tess stating how much they enjoyed their day, and how pleased she was to see island personnel who knew her father and to see the island so well maintained by the continued efforts of the Corregidor Foundation.
Steve and Marcia on the Rock

1 comment:

  1. I was just at Corregidor Island last month (Saturday, Novermber 24th), which it was a very educational, inspriational, and spiritual experience! Thanks for sharing, your blog has been enlightening to read and it was an honor meeting you in person after meeting your friends (missionaries from Canada) on the boat ride from Manila. God bless and Maligayang Pasko!