Weather bureau defends Nida forecast, T8 not needed

Heavy rains yesterday morning

Heavy rains yesterday morning


Fong Soi Kun

Following controversy over the fact that a “signal 8” was not hoisted yesterday morning, the Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG) called a press conference yesterday to say that the weather was not rough enough to justify a T8 typhoon signal.
“To hoist typhoon signal 8 requires an average wind speed above 63 km per hour,” said the director of the SMG, Fong Soi Kun. “The maximum intensity registered was a little over 60 kilometer per hour on average, with wind gusts reaching around 90,” Fong said, adding the wind gusts for the signal 3 of typhoon criteria “can reach up to 110 [km/h].”

The peak of the intensity of typhoon Nida was registered between 6 and 7 a. m.
When questioned by journalists regarding the discrepant typhoon signals used in Macau, Hong Kong, or Zhuhai, Fong said: “We can’t compare the effects of the typhoon on those regions with Macau.” The SMG head used maps to demonstrate that strong winds primarily affected the area where Hong Kong and Shenzhen are located. He also pointed out that the criteria and signal system used in Zhuhai and mainland China “is totally different, so we can’t compare the warning signals of Macau with the ones in the mainland.”
Critics vented on social net-­works and other forums, suggesting that the bureau must have been under particular pressure from the gaming industry. To this, the director of the SMG affirmed: “The decision not to hoist the signal 8 was ours [of the SMG] and ultimately mine,” adding that such a decision is made exclusively on the basis of “scientific data, knowledge and experience” which he claimed SMG staff use in order to provide a “forecast as precise as possible.”
Regarding the SMG forecasts, Fong noted: “They are always done by excess rather than by shortcoming” in order to guarantee public safety, adding that the interference of “gaming revenues or other things” are not topics taken into consideration.
Following questions from the media regarding the malfunctioning of one of the meteorological stations located at Amizade Bridge, and how that could influence the results,  Fong added that SMG data is collected across 15 different stations, 14 of which are perfectly operational. He admitted that the failure of the station located on the Amizade Bridge was due to an incident during a thunderstorm on July 10, but reaffirmed that “the lack of information from that station has no influence on the final results.”
Not discarding totally the possibility of moments of “potential risk,” during short periods of time, Fong said that SMG will contact other services to present several proposals, namely regarding the possibility of the government opening the underpass of Sai Van bridge for the transit of motorcycles even during a signal 3 typhoon.
The head of SMG reaffirmed the investment and effort of the bureau in providing accurate and up-to-date information through the meteorological service’s website and mobile app.
Questioned by the Times regarding the referred app, and to the fact that although most of the content is provided in a trilingual version (Chinese, Portuguese and English), it only provides warning messages and the so-called “latest weather tips” in Chinese, Fong admitted he was unaware of that problem and promised to review and correct the situation, saying “all the messages that are posted by the SMG should be done in the three languages [Portuguese, English and Chinese]” apologizing “if our app is currently presenting this flaw.”

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