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Philippines
Monday, June 24, 2024

‘PAGASA heat indices should be location-specific’

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Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is urging the  Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to come up with more “granular and location-specific heat indices” to help schools and local government units (LGUs) decide on whether or not they should cancel classes.

Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate Basic Education Committee, also suggested that the state weather bureau come up with location-specific temperature forecasts.

“If we need to buy technology or to help you with technology, the Senate can definitely assist you to help improve the decision-making of our LGUs and our school  on class suspension,” Gatchalian said.

“It is important to provide the schools and local government units with the necessary information so they can respond because a lack of information may also lead to a lack of advanced and strategic response, which can be detrimental to our students,” Gatchalian added.

Heb cited the examples of tropical cyclone signals, which serve as the bases for class cancellations. He hopes to see something similar to help school heads and local chief executives make more informed decisions on canceling classes and prompt the rest of the school community to make their respective adjustments.

“We all know that during the rainy season, the process is very clear. We cancel classes based on the storm signal. It’s highly structured, with no room for arbitrariness. We want to avoid scenarios where a mayor or school head might have differing concepts regarding class cancellations,” Gatchalian emphasized.

While Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Operations Cesar Bringas acknowledges that PAGASA’s forecasts only cover specific cities or provinces, class suspensions remain arbitrary because the applicability of these forecasts to surrounding areas is still unclear.

Dr. Marcelino Q. Villafuerte II, Deputy Administrator for Research and Development from PAGASA, said that while the agency has limitations on its observation network, it is already exploring methods to estimate temperature values without a sensor. 

The PAGASA official added that the agency is also exploring other science-based approaches to determine or at least estimate the temperature and heat index for a particular location. Villafuerte added that PAGASA is also looking at developing an interactive map that can show the heat index forecast for up to seven days in a specific location.

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