The Philippine Onion

Lies and half-truths shall set you free

Posts Tagged ‘typhoon mina’

The art and science of weather forecasting and why we can’t predict Mina

Posted by commiedyan on November 26, 2007

Our weather forecasters have drawn a lot of undeserved flak for the way Mina has skirted the areas she was supposed to damage. We must be so cynical we can’t even recognize good news.

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer is this report: Mina’s veering off sparks text jokes in Albay. We hope you don’t mind if we’re occasionally serious.

But first a joke from Onionista. Typhoon Mina changed course, from B.S. Meteorology to A.B. Political Science and she’s now in Malacañang meeting with Gloria, Cerge Remonde,Ronnie Puno, and Ignacio Bunye, trying to spin the whirlwind and grab credit for the minimal destruction thus far.

Now for the serious weather jokes:

  1. “I am not sure how clouds get formed. But the clouds know how to do it, and that is the important thing.”
  2. “In making rain water, it takes everything from H to O.”
  3. Water vapour gets together in a cloud. When it is big enough to be called a drop, it does.

Here’s the source of these corny jokes,

Now this is the source of the serious stuff. There are two mainstream methods in weather forecasting.

  1. The persistence method:This is the simplest way of producing a forecast. The persistence method assumes that the conditions at the time of the forecast will not change. For example, if it is sunny and 87 degrees today, the persistence method predicts that it will be sunny and 87 degrees tomorrow. If two inches of rain fell today, the persistence method would predict two inches of rain for tomorrow.
  2. Numerical Weather Prediction: Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) uses the power of computers to make a forecast. Complex computer programs, also known as forecast models, run on supercomputers and provide predictions on many atmospheric variables such as temperature, pressure, wind, and rainfall. A forecaster examines how the features predicted by the computer will interact to produce the day’s weather. The NWP method is flawed in that the equations used by the models to simulate the atmosphere are not precise. This leads to some error in the predictions. In addition, the are many gaps in the initial data since we do not receive many weather observations from areas in the mountains or over the ocean. If the initial state is not completely known, the computer’s prediction of how that initial state will evolve will not be entirely accurate. Despite these flaws, the NWP method is probably the best of the five discussed here at forecasting the day-to-day weather changes. Very few people, however, have access to the computer data. In addition, the beginning forecaster does not have the knowledge to interpret the computer forecast, so the simpler forecasting methods, such as the trends or analogue method, are recommended for the beginner.

Weather forecasting shares some characteristics with economic and political forecasting. The forecasters never get sued.

You might be wondering why we’re in a good mood. We just got over a persistent tropical depression. Smile naman.

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Posted in analysis, science, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Cebu nativity streamer not blasphemous—Pope Benedict XVI

Posted by commiedyan on November 24, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI has ruled out blasphemy in the piece of pop art on the nativity which caused a stir in Cebu, Vatican state secretary Tarcisio Bertone said in a press release we received yesterday.

Cardinal Bertone has also recently announced that Pope Benedict XVI  is due to issue the second encyclical of his papacy, on the theme of “Christian hope.”

The tarp art allegedly has the faces of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Virgin Mary and former president Joseph Estrada as Joseph. “Don’t jump to conclusions,” the Pope reportedly wrote to Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, whom he fondly calls Brother Ricky, the press statement said. “Our interpretations are not infallible, for all we know the two could be attending a baptism.”

“But in the event, it is counterproductive to have the artist excommunicated,” the Pope was quoted further in the statement. It added that in the case of the Angono artists and the Philippine National Press Club (PNPc), the holy father stood squarely on the side of artistic freedom. More excerpts:

“We should leave it up to Him upstairs, because if he wants to he can always direct lightning at the ‘offensive’ cinema, which seems to be showing pornography…but we should take it as a sign that Cebu is being spared the ravages of typhoon Mina.”

“Finally brothers Ricky and Achilles (Fr. Achilles Dakay, ‘spokesperson’ of the Cebu Archdiocese–editors) your flock has much more important problems. Look at the bigger picture, the damage those two characters are continuing to inflict on the Filipino nation.”

In a phone interview last night, Cardinal Bertone revealed other details on how the Pope reached his position, indicating how closely the holy father has been monitoring developments in the Philippines, including the travails of Pampanga governor Ed Panlilio.

The good cardinal said that at one dinner, the Pope nearly fell off his seat laughing at his own joke on what the two characters could be saying to each other:

“I can’t be the father of this child, I was under house arrest for six years.”

“You idiot, you don’t know what immaculate conception means!”

Cardinal Bertone also cited events in scripture that were relevant to the decision, but these we could not independently verify.

Posted in religion | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Philippine ‘typhoon corridor’ bill breezes thru House on third reading

Posted by commiedyan on November 23, 2007

Manila–Fearing the consequences of typhoon Mina (international codename Mitag; click here for real-time tracking), the House approved without a vote on third reading a measure creating the Philippine ‘typhoon corridor’ at four this morning. House Bill 999.9 sponsored by Rep. Perpetuo Quixote of windswept Batanes had been certified as urgent by Malacañang, allegedly to calm the political weather.

Deliberations of the public works committee had earlier been described as stormy, and before news of Mina, discussions had just been going round and round in circles and spirals.

The measure, mandating the use of state-of-the-art weather control technology, not only eliminates all damage from tropical disturbances but also quadruples the country’s wind energy potential to 16 gigawatts, proponents said. In addition, it would also help shed the country’s image as a state of calamity.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, alleged Philippine president, lauded the development but warned of difficult negotiations in the bicameral conference committee because of radically conflicting provisions. Hearings on the senate bill have also frequently been cancelled because of bad weather.

The corridor, to be constructed at an estimated cost of anywhere from P55 billion to P1 trillion, will be financed in the main by official development assistance from China. It will thenceforth be the sole authorized passageway for all typhoons through the country, and will be administered by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). The infrastructure project will be the first of its kind in the world, NDCC spokesperson Anthony Golez said.

The House version envisions the corridor to be carved across valleys and mountains 20 kilometers south of the northern tip of Luzon. The counterpart bill in the upper chamber, sponsored by senators Aquilino Pimentel and Miguel Zubiri, wants the corridor to cut the whole country longitudinally, from Davao, zigzagging through the major cities in Mindanao and on to the Visayas and Luzon. The House version provides that displaced residents would be relocated to Taiwan while that of the Senate designates Malaysia and Singapore. Both versions provide for the establishment of wind farms along the breadth of the corridor under build-operate-own (BOO) arrangements. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in analysis, congress, Nature, science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Weather bulletin: Mina to skirt Metro Manila

Posted by commiedyan on November 23, 2007

“I’ll be away from Manila for some time to attend to family and business affairs in the United States,” sexy star Ara Mina told TPO in an interview at her pasta joint on Maginhawa st., UP Village at dawn today.

She would neither confirm nor deny her alleged stormy affair with Manny Pacquiao, who has claimed the rumors were spread to spark interest in their latest movie.

Meanwhile, the latest bulletin from the weather bureau quoted by the perpetually giggling Gretchen Fullido said the Bicol region is already being inundated by typhoon Mina, to be welcomed this afternoon by Albay governor Joey Salceda. Anthony Golez of the national disaster coordinating council was also quoted as saying they had completed the evacuation of two million Bicolanos to Metro Manila.

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