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MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III led the launch on Friday of a rain and flood forecasting system that he said would protect Filipinos from the deluge during the rainy season.
Aquino launched Project NOAH (Nationwide Operation Assessment of Hazards) in Marikina City, one of the areas that bore the brunt of the 2009 flooding caused by tropical storm Ondoy.
Aquino said the multi-sectoral project would benefit Filipinos at most risk during floods.
"Project NOAH is the ark our citizens will use during the deluge," Aquino said in Filipino.
The project is a pilot venture of the Department of Science and Technology and aims to provide more information on weather and flooding data using graphical satellite radar and Doppler data forecasts.
Filipinos can navigate through the updated forecasts through its website: http://noah.dost.gov.ph/
Science Secretary Mario Montejo lauded the help of Smart Communications and Sun Cellular, which agreed to have some of the weather devices placed inside their terrestrial communication satellites.
Smart Communications and Digital Telecommunications Philippines, of which Sun Cellular is a subsidiary, are both chaired by Manuel V. Pangilinan, who also chairs ABC Development Corp., which operates TV5.
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Under Project NOAH, the DOST will also map out 18 target river basins using the Light Detection and Ranging or LIDAR system.
LIDAR is an optical remote sensing technology that can generate very accurate topographical maps of river basins.
When combined with rainfall data, it will eventually allow DOST to create computer-generated flood forecasting models to predict the amount and depth of flood for a given area, enhancing disaster preparedness for any specific area of the country.
"Ngayon po, 'di na palad ang panukat sa ulan, 'di na tuhod ang panukat sa baha ...'di na padadaanin ang hula kung saan babagsak ang ulan (Now, we will no longer measure the rain with our palms or the floods with our knees … we no longer have to guess where the rains will fall)," Aquino said.
He said his administration is keen on making weather updates more helpful to citizens.
Part of this effort was the installation of 100 automated rain gauges in 2011, 86 of which were deployed outside of Luzon.
Aquino also mentioned the installation of new Doppler radars, which can measure the amount of rainfall in the clouds, in Baguio, Subic, Tagaytay and Hinatuan.
By 2012, Aquino vowed to have 600 Filipino-made rain gauges all over the country.
"Di na po totoo na ang buhay ay weather-weather na lang (It is no longer true that life is just changes in the weather)," Aquino even joked, referring to a quip first popularized by former President Joseph Estrada.