You may have seen storm chasers only in the movies, but now it is for real. The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Chief himself revealed his plans to form a “storm chaser” team to complement DOST’s existing weather monitoring systems.

DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo disclosed this during the Mindanao Cluster Science and Technology Fair at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang, Davao City.

“Last year, we started the storm chaser technologies or the mobile radar to be deployed near the areas where the typhoon will hit… for additional weather monitoring for incoming weather disturbances,” explained Sec. Montejo.

The need for storm chasers surfaced because weather conditions are getting more adverse, as exemplified by Typhoon Pablo, a Category 5 super typhoon which generated winds of 175 mph (280 km/h).

Storm chasers are individuals pursuing any weather condition. They are armed with various weather tracking instruments from basic photographic equipment to satellite based tracking systems and live data feeds to vehicle mounted weather stations and hail guards. Storm chasers take on such perilous job in the pursuit of scientific studies.

In a separate interview, Sec. Montejo said that the Department has identified a group from the Philippine Atmospheric and Geophysical, Astronomical Services Administration (DOST-PAGASA) to form the core who will go to various areas prior to the expected typhoon landing.

Also, the Secretary reiterated the use of high performance supercomputers to complement the high-volume data for complex weather modeling.

DOST targets a six-hour lead-time weather forecast during typhoons to provide a more significant time for the local government to implement its evacuation plans.

He also informed media that the DOST-DREAM Program or the Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation (DREAM) is currently working on the PHIL-LiDAR I, an expansion program to map the remaining 257 floodplain areas which are not covered in the 20 priority river basins. It will cover 22,000 square kilometers of flood prone areas within the country, an arduous task which will run from 2014 up to 2016.

Unlike the DREAM-LiDAR, Phil-LiDAR I will involve 14 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in developing flood models for the Project NOAH website. These SUCs will complement the existing DREAM Team in developing Discharge Modeling which predicts possible flooding in specific areas. Also, the SUCs will help develop the real-time inundation. (S&T Media Service, DOST-STII)

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