PAF eyes cloud seeding vs Benguet forest fires

by lawannarustin

By JOVILAND RITA, GMA Integrated News

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Tuesday said it is planning to conduct cloud seeding operations as part of efforts to put out the forest fires in Benguet.

“May plans din tayo (We have plans) for cloud seeding operations. It might happen this week,” PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo said in a press conference.

“It’s part of our effort to suppress fire na kumakalat ibang approach naman. Kasi through heli bucket we can only deliver 800 liters of water and then usually we can conduct 50 sorties per day,” he added.

(It’s part of our effort to suppress the spreading of the fires but employing a different approach. With heli bucket operations, we can only deliver 800 liters of water and then usually we can conduct 50 sorties per day.)

Smoke and haze engulfed parts of Benguet and Baguio City as eight forest fires broke out across the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) recently.

In the town of Tuba, a forest fire razed a portion of Mount Santo Tomas, with the massive blaze almost reaching vital installations with communications, TV and radio equipment. 

The fire reached the neighboring municipality of Bokod, with authorities responding to the fire.

Regarding the conduct of cloud seeding to mitigate the impact of El Niño, Castillo said the PAF is collaborating with the Department of Agriculture and the Isabela provincial government.

“Recently, cloud seeding operations were conducted using a chartered plane with Air Force Weather Officers and technicians facilitating the operations. Nakapag-produce daw sila ng rain,” she added.

On July 4, 2023, state weather bureau PAGASA declared the start of the El Niño phenomenon in the Tropical Pacific. Its effects have started to be experienced in the Philippines.

The cost of damage to agriculture due to the effects of El Niño has increased to over P810 million, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Tuesday.

A total of 13,326 farmers and fisherfolks as well as 12,493 hectares of crops have been affected due to the El Nino effects, according to the NDRRMC.—RF, GMA Integrated News

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