Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña (File photo)

MANILA – Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña on Thursday said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has installed additional monitoring equipment to boost the country’s disaster preparedness.

"To help bolster our capacities to prepare and mitigate the impacts of hydrometeorological hazards such as typhoons and floods, PAGASA has installed additional Doppler Radars for tropical cyclone and rain monitoring, High Frequency Doppler Radars for sea waves monitoring, and Flood Forecasting and Warning Systems (FFWS)," he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

From January 2019 to June 2020, Dela Peña said PAGASA has installed 12 more High Frequency Doppler Radars, bringing the number to 24, and one additional Doppler Radar, increasing the units to 17.

He said PAGASA has also a total of 13 FFWS, including five installed during the same period while six more units will be built in different areas of the country.

In a separate interview with PAGASA administrator Vicente Malano, the FFWS will be established in major river basins like the Abulug in Kalinga, Ilog-Hilabangan in Negros Occidental, Agusan River Basin in Agusan del Sur, Agus in Iligan, Mindanao River Basin in Cotabato, and Aklan River Basin in Kalibo.

"Originally, we targeted to finish these FFWS by the end of the year, or at least by the first quarter of 2021. With the ongoing community quarantine, the works have been stopped. We could not go there, so we don't know when we could finish these," Malano said.

Meanwhile, Malano said PAGASA forecasters have been testing a new method called "Method to Predict the Likelihood of the Occurrence of Tropical Cyclone Two Weeks in Advance".

According to dela Peña, PAGASA researchers developed the method which, he added, “provides information on the possible occurrence of tropical cyclone, and its path and trajectory five to 16 days in advance.”

"Initial observations reveal that the new method performs with considerable accuracy," he added.

With regard to the country's earthquake monitoring capability, dela Peña said the DOST has been expanding the Philippine Seismic Network through the commissioning of additional satellite telemetered seismic stations.

"From 98 seismic stations in 2017, we now have 104 seismic stations nationwide. These stations shall help us monitor small earthquakes with magnitude less than three, which is essential in predicting possible sites of bigger and damaging earthquakes," dela Peña said. (PNA)