End of Urduja in Eastern Visayas: Were the people misinformed?

INSIGHT

Finally, it’s peace time in Tacloban. No wind and rain for almost 2 hours already. Urduja’s final blow in this part of the region took place at around 2pm which lasted for a little more than an hour. 

Caraycaray Bridge in Naval Biliran has been totally wrecked due to massive floodwaters brought about by Tropical Storm Urduja leaving Biliran's capital isolated from the rest of Eastern Visayas. (Photo credit: OPAV)
After around 46 hours of lingering over the vicinity of Samar and Leyte islands, Urduja is now gone somewhere. 

PAGASA, in many of its announced broadcast said that Urduja could be in Palawan territory by Sunday afternoon. That is if their prediction is accurate. 

To us, we say we are victims of both a major calamity and misinformation. Nobody in Tacloban City probably have thought that Urduja will inflict so much damage in the metro and many parts of Leyte as for most part of the typhoon, Leyte remained in Signal # 1. 

Eastern Samar and Northern Samar provinces, the path of TS Urduja, at most were placed in Signal # 2. 

The aftermath? All three provinces of Samar will most likely declare State of Calamity with many parts of the island are still isolated or difficult to access. 2 deaths were reported in Biliran due to landslide. 3 people went missing, 1 in Eastern Samar and 2 in Biliran. 

Widespread blackout is currently being experienced and as of this posting, affected electric cooperatives and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) are yet to provide a clear timetable for power restoration. Many parts of the storm’s path are still underwater. 

Responders are not sufficient and no doubt, local government units have not prepared so much for such a grave disaster. 

What puzzles most among bystanders and observers was the weather bulletin # 25 released by PAGASA at around 4pm in the afternoon of December 16 claiming Urduja made a landfall at about 3pm in the vicinity of San Policarpo, Eastern Samar. 

Local residents of the said municipality and nearby areas had been posting in social media that at about 11am, strong winds and heavy rains have dwindled down already. 

In fact, clear skies already appeared in the horizon yet PAGASA claims 4 hours after that the storm just made landfall. Quiet interestingly, an hour after the San Policarpo landfall announcement, Tacloban City was already peaceful. 

Was this a case of another misreading of the state weather bureau’s weather instruments or another human error? 

To many, PAGASA was even slower than the 5 kph movement of the storm. Or was the storm too slow that it was hardly noticed by weather experts? 

In a world of advance science, when will our weather observatories live up to the worsening weather conditions? Or is there still a chance? (BMA)

Relief packs are being prepared at the Provincial Capitol of Eastern Samar in response to the looming disaster brought about by TS Urduja. (Photo credit: Penelope Pomida)

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