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Hydrological Response of the Pampanga River Basin in the Philippines to Intense Tropical Cyclone Rainfall

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  • 1 Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
  • | 2 Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, Quezon City, Philippines
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Abstract

The Philippines is frequently affected by tropical cyclones (TCs), and understanding the flood response of the Pampanga River basin (PRB) from TC-induced rain is needed in effective disaster risk management. As large uncertainties remain in TC rain forecasting, we propose a simple checklist method for flood forecasting of the PRB that depends on the general TC track, season, and accumulated rainfall. To this end, flood events were selected based on the alert, alarm, and critical river height levels established by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Results show that all flood events in the PRB were induced by TCs. All intense TCs that directly traversed the PRB resulted in critical-level floods. These TCs also had the shortest flood onset of 7–27 h from alert to critical level. Flooding from distant landfalling TCs, on the other hand, are dependent on season. TCs traversing north (south) of the PRB induced flooding only during the southwest (northeast) monsoon season. These TCs can raise water levels from alert to critical in 11–48 h. Remote precipitation from non-landfalling TCs can also induce critical-level flooding but with a longer onset time of 59 h. These results indicate that a simple checklist method can serve as a useful tool for flood forecasting in regions with limited data and forecasting resources.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Gerry Bagtasa, gbagtasa@iesm.upd.edu.ph

Abstract

The Philippines is frequently affected by tropical cyclones (TCs), and understanding the flood response of the Pampanga River basin (PRB) from TC-induced rain is needed in effective disaster risk management. As large uncertainties remain in TC rain forecasting, we propose a simple checklist method for flood forecasting of the PRB that depends on the general TC track, season, and accumulated rainfall. To this end, flood events were selected based on the alert, alarm, and critical river height levels established by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Results show that all flood events in the PRB were induced by TCs. All intense TCs that directly traversed the PRB resulted in critical-level floods. These TCs also had the shortest flood onset of 7–27 h from alert to critical level. Flooding from distant landfalling TCs, on the other hand, are dependent on season. TCs traversing north (south) of the PRB induced flooding only during the southwest (northeast) monsoon season. These TCs can raise water levels from alert to critical in 11–48 h. Remote precipitation from non-landfalling TCs can also induce critical-level flooding but with a longer onset time of 59 h. These results indicate that a simple checklist method can serve as a useful tool for flood forecasting in regions with limited data and forecasting resources.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Gerry Bagtasa, gbagtasa@iesm.upd.edu.ph
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