Saturday, December 17, 2011

Typhoon Flooding in Philippines Kills at Least 600

Earlier this year we visited the Philippines flood warning center in Manila as two major typhoons struck, back to back (those last two links point to this blog's stories about that). Last night another typhoon (Sendong/Washi) tracked across the southern islands, passed back over the ocean and then hit land again a few hours later near Puerto Princesa (we also visited Puerto Princesa's Underground River and wrote a three part series about it).

According to the weather and hydrology agency, PAGASA, 180 mm (7 inches) of rain fell at Hinatua causing flash floods. Six bridges were destroyed. Many stories put the death toll at 400 although numbers like this quickly rise (a story out in the last hour says 600 dead).

Village washed away by flash flood
Some quotes from the news

Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz said many people were caught by surprise when water rose one meter (three feet) high in less than an hour, forcing people onto roofs. "Most of them were already sleeping when flood waters entered their homes. This is the worst flooding our city has experienced in years."...then....

“I can’t explain how these things happened, entire villages were swept to the sea by flash floods,” Galon said. “I have not seen anything like this before. This could be worse than Ondoy,” he said, referring to a 2009 storm that inundated the capital, Manila, killing hundreds of people.

Another story suggests some difference in the magnitude of the rainfall forecasts between agencies (although technically TRMM is not a forecast but rather a measure of what rain is already following). That same story expressed concerns about the storm warning signal being based only on windspeed and not volume of rainfall, a concern echoed by hydrologists because rainfall is what causes floods and is most relevant.

TRRM [sic] analysis of data gathered by the satellite's instruments showed that Sendong was already carrying "very heavy rainfall of over 50mm/hr (~2 inches).” In comparison, Ondoy dumped 56.83 mm/hr of rainfall on Metro Manila in September 2009. Around the same day, Philippine state weather bureau PAGASA and the disaster management agency NDRRMC predicted only a 10-25 mm per hour rainfall amount for Sendong. The highest storm warning signal raised over areas affected by Sendong was only signal number 2.

There are some videos of the floods

Video 1
Video 2

The latest videos are likely available across the header of the ABS-CBN website.

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