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Visit to the Subic Doppler Radar facility

Since the inception of Project NOAH in the Philippines, a lot of people have been looking at those real-time radar images  that were made available to the public and I’m sure it made some (if not a lot of) people appreciate weather more.  Last week, together with colleagues and students from the Institute of Environmental Science & Meteorology of the University of the Philippines (the institute where I belong), we visited the doppler radar facility in Subic, Zambales.

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The radar facility sits on top of a mountain that is immediately visible when one goes to Subic.  Around halfway up the mountain, the whole area has a perimeter fence with soldiers on guard.  Upon reaching the site, I was quite surprised that the tower is draped in “steel blue urban camouflage”, whats up with that? Anyway, the bottom half of the picture above is the signal pulse generator and the radom of the radar system.  This radar became operational in 2010 and is one of the two radars that has coverage of Metro Manila.

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Before proceeding to go up the tower, there’s this warning sign.  Since there were no visible rain clouds that day, the person in charge was kind enough to turn off the whole system for around half an hour so we can see the radar up close.

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Inside the control room of the radar system (picture above).  That’s Dr. Amadore (in black, he’s a former PAGASA director) telling the PAGASA person and students that the system needs validation.  Next picture, that’s me (in the gray shirt) in discussion with Dr. Ronald Macatangay (red) and Dr. Amadore .

IMG_0293The software that comes with the system enables 3-d visualization, we can see each radial scan at every elevation angle.  FYI, what we see on the NOAH site is a composite of all the scans.

IMG_0281The control room itself is isolated, clean, very cold (to cool down the computers) and well maintained.  Outside that room, however, is like a scene straight out of a horror movie.  Paints are chipped and everything’s really rusty, I hope the Philippine government puts more funding for the tower’s proper maintenance.

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IMG_0339Some picture on our way to the top.  The height was a bit disorienting especially with the rather strong winds up there, not to mention the see through flooring!

1074144_10152058094003227_624874052_oand of course, a trip won’t be complete without a (group) selfie.

Some of the images are from Ronald, Ariel and JM. Thanks!

20140321 – gb

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