Failure of Weather Reporting: the so-called “Low Pressure Area” (my angst about weather reporting & weather forecasting)

Failure of Weather Reporting:

the so-called “Low Pressure Area”

( blog admin has had angst about this since Ondoy and have been ranting about it with friends, colleagues, and reporters, it even crops up as an aside in speeches and presentations; might as well put it in writing para matapos na. 


    When journalists, news anchors,  weather announcers use the term “low pressure area”, quoted verbatim from weather bureau spokespersons, they do not deliver any useful information to the audience.     What the hell is a low pressure area? Tropical storm Sendong  which killed more than a thousand,  and  Ondoy which drowned and crushed more than 700,  were all  first reported as: “low pressure area”. People did not pay attention until hundreds were being buried alive in the mud.

     No effort is made to explain what a low pressure area is,  whether or not there would be massive rains for four hours, how much flooding is expected,  and what areas would turn into an ocean of debris.

     A low pressure area is simply:  a clump of cold air. (Source: see article below, this one uses “cloudy weather and rains” for low pressure area). More specifically, it is a clump of cold air that  brings rains, ranging from a spatter to raging waters. (if you’re going to use my phrases for “low pressure area” please attribute it this blog,  copycat)

    The last part — that is where you’d want PAGASA  to do its job: will it be a spatter?  Or a cyclone?

From “How low pressure systems affect weather”  By Chad Palmer,

“When forecasters say a low pressure area or storm is moving toward your region, this usually means cloudy weather and precipitation are on the way. xxx

(from blog admin: “low pressure area” here simply means clouds and rains.)

“Low pressure systems have different intensities with some producing a gentle rain while others produce hurricane force winds and a massive deluge.

“The centers of all storms are areas of low air pressure.

“Air rises near low pressure areas. As air rises, it cools and often condenses into clouds and precipitation.

(from blog admin: When the air pressure in an area is lower than that in surrounding areas, the air rises. This produces clouds and rains.)

“If the low pressure area is the center of a Northern Hemisphere extratropical storm, a steady rain or snow can fall to the north of the warm front as warm moist air from the south rises up and over the cold air ahead of the warm front. Showers and thunderstorms often fire up ahead of the cold front in the warm, unstable air.

“Usually, showers and thunderstorms ahead of the cold front don’t last a long as the precipitation ahead of the warm front. xxx”

    A clump of cold air in Filipino (for the broadcast media and Filipino tabloids) would translate into:  isang kumpol ng malamig na hangin  or  isang pulutong ng malamig na hangin  or if you want to be specific, a clump of cold air that brings rains or isang kumpol ng malamig na hangin na may dalang ulan. [If you’re going to lift my phrases, please attribute it to this blog, copycat; 

if you were able to get new ideas from this blog, please attribute it to this post,
(thick-skinned )]

       Which of these deliver  more information:


 —— low pressure area?

 Or: cold air that brings rains / Malamig na hangin na may dalang ulan.

Here’s the PAGASA (weather bureau) weather advisory today, and how blog admin would storify it:

“At 8 a.m. today, the Low Pressure Area (LPA) was estimated based on satellite and surface data at 60 km Northwest of Ambulong, Batangas or 50 km West Southwest of Manila (14.3°N, 120.5°E). “

[Blog admin’s rewrite:

      At 8am, cold air carrying rains was detected 60km Northwest of Ambulong, Batangas or 50 km West Southwest of Manila, based on satellite and ground data. (if I were to edit this some more, I would ask the weather reporter to simply name the towns and municipalities instead of saying “60km Northwest of Ambulong, Batangas or 50 km West Southwest of Manila”. The problem with weather reporters is : they just quote verbatim without thought,  and the editors/ news directors let them.)

Continuation of PAGASA weather advisory: “Residents living in low lying areas and along mountain slopes are advised to be on alert for possible occurrence of flashfloods and landslides.”

     Media organizations reported this as is. I’d ask the weather reporter: Go back there, ask PAGASA to state what cities and municipalities, how high the flood might be, and what time. If they say they don’t know, we’ll just state that; they might find a way to be more prepared next time.  

      That’s the end of my angst, salamat po, this is the last time i will write about how to storify technicalese … pwohmis! (promise!)


UPDATED: Happy National Heroes Day (Birth anniversary of the leader of the Philippine Revolution of 1896 Andres Bonifacio)

Happy National Heroes Day!

Updated: Photo shot today, November 30:

Birth anniversary of the leader of the

Philippine Revolution of 1896 Andres Bonifacio

Mabuhay and Himagsikang Pilipino!

(Long live the Philippine Revolution!)

(parenthetical description written early morning: last photo below: variation of the warrior pose. To be continued, i’ll be back at midday with more illustration! hafta run then run errands, then be back)


    As promised –  back from a run, and running errands.

    Fortunately, this glorious morning of heroes day, with the sun beating fiercely, the  U.P. Rayadillo in full regalia with an energetic marching band, the U.P ROTC, and the Andres Bonifacio choir (the sopranos were pretty good, runners could hear the high notes soaring from the Bonifacio monument, across the street, up to the Sunken Garden — what more could you ask for? not bad, not bad at all) rendered full honor rites to Andres Bonifacio…See photo above. (blog admin is saved from posting the rest of her warrior photos.)

     And here’s a continuation of the blog translation series, (with apologies, blog admin presumptuous enough to translate, if only for the worldwide audience.)

    You guessed it – Andres Bonifacio’s “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa” (Love for the Motherland). Translating it is one of those forms of sacrilege which it is  hoped people would forgive me for. How does one translate “sa abang-abang mawalay sa bayan?”… “Aba”, the adjective,  means humble, or poor in the sense of to be pitied; “abang-aba” is very humble. “Mawalay sa bayan” literally means to be separated from the country. You cannot translate it literally. It will look like: For the very humble separated from the country. That is not the sense of it, right?  (that’s why i said —  presumptuous; but … have not yet  been lynched so far for this translation series).

     Once, just to test the language aptitude of students (my classes are bi-lingual; i wanted to test it, but i never tried this exercise again, blog admin was in stitches, stomach hurt from laughing ), i asked students to translate three lines from Andres Bonifacio’s poem.

      For “sakbibi ng lumbay” (roughly, it means, enveloped by sadness), a student wrote:

                “basket of sorrow”…

              and i said “oh… that’s an unusual metaphor.”

             Then i thought very hard.

            Looked far away. Why basket?  Then i said “Sakbibi… basket…? why basket”

         And everybody laughed.

         Apparently, the rest of the class caught on faster. They chorused “Ma’am tampipi!! hindi sakbibi!” (Ma’am, she meant tampipi!! for sakbibi!) Here’s what a tampipi looks like…(photo from 

          So — that’s why she answered, basket.  Basket of sorrow.

       I’m just glad i did not get an answer: Oyster. Oyster is kabibi. Sounds like sakbibi. Oyster of sorrow. Kabibi – Sakbibi.  Kabibi ng lumbay.


        Continuation of the translation series. Lines from Andres Bonifacio’s Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa, with apologies: 

Sa abang- abang mawalay sa bayan!

Gunita ma’y laging sakbibi ng lumbay,

Walang alaalang inaasa-asam

Kundi ang makita’y lupang tinubuan.

(blog admin’s translation, with apologies:

For those suffering exile from our land

 Every memory filled with sadness and love

 Every remembrance stirred by longing

 To see the beloved country of yearning)

Aling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya

 Sa pagkadalisay at pagkadakila

 Gaya ng pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa

 Aling pag-ibig pa? Wala na nga wala

 (blog admin’s translation, with apologies:

  Is there any greater love

 Any purer love… any truer love

 Than love for the motherland?

 Is there any other love?

 Truly no other, truly unsurpassed.)

Here’s an earlier attempt to translate lines from Andres Bonifacio: (Blog post 21 May 2008):

 Blog post:  “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa”

(“Love for the Motherland”) by Andres Bonifacio, excerpted (rough translation for non-Filipinos by blog admin)

  “Kayong nalagasan ng bunga’t bulaklak

 Kahoy niyaring buhay na nilanta’t sukat

 Ng bala-balaki’t makapal na hirap

 Muling manariwa’t sa baya’y lumiyag

(Those of you with felled  flowers and blossom

 Trees that gave life but withered in a sudden

 Sapped by multiple  hardship,  persecution, suffering

 Take heart, now they bloom in the motherland’s bosom)

  “Ipakahandog-handog ang buong pag-ibig

 Hanggang sa may dugo’y ubusing itigis

 Kung sa pagtatanggol buhay ang kapalit

 Ito’y kapalaran at tunay na langit

  (Fully offering  all of our love

    Even if the cost is the last ounce of our blood

     Should this struggle exact, the price of our life)

     That would be our path, that would be our bliss.)