Typhoon Dading of 1964 and How the Philippines Detected It Without Satellites
The Philippines had just entered its monsoon season back in June 1964, and the third cyclone of the year had rolled into the country. Filipino meteorologists named it Typhoon Dading, internationally known as Typhoon Winnie. Manila was a direct hit.
“I very well recall this storm,” recalls Jose in a Manila Nostalgia post. “We had two big mango trees at the frontage and two big acoje trees next to the driveway that toppled. That was midnight.”
Typhoon Dading would make international headlines as the storm punished Manila and surrounding provinces. The New York Times called it “the worst typhoon to hit the Philippines in 82 years.” The typhoon had sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour and was considered a Category 3 typhoon.
The Salt Lake Telegram quoted Manila residents on how Typhoon Dading was the worst storm to hit the capital since 1934. “Nearly 15 hours after the typhoon struck, rain was still falling, but wind had subsided to 30 to 40 miles an hour,” it reported.
Typhoon Dading's Path
The Bulletin, a newspaper from the U.S., explained how the typhoon dealt so much damage. “Fed with moisture-laden air from a southwest monsoon, the typhoon flooded whole neighborhoods of Manila,” the paper reported.
Many years and subsequent typhoons later, Typhoon Dading would still be etched in the memories of Filipinos as the most powerful storm to ravage the nation.
Ted, who also witnessed the storm’s destruction, can vividly remember its onslaught. “Dading was the legendary typhoon at that time, like if you want to express a situation of doom and gloom, just say ‘Dading.’”
Dading left the Philippines with a trail of deaths and destruction. At least 100 people were killed, 500,000 left homeless, and over 2.5 million households paralyzed for days because of power outages. Telephone and telegraph lines were toppled down, and radio communications were disrupted throughout the capital.
But despite the damage it caused, many people were still able to prepare for the typhoon. This was during a time when the Philippines did not have weather satellites. So, how did the weathermen predict the onslaught of Typhoon Dading?
How the Philippines Predicted Typhoons Before There Were Weather Satellites
There was no Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) 1964 during the onslaught of Typhoon Dading.
Before the emergence of radar and satellite technology, news of incoming typhoons were spread by fishermen and sailors through word of mouth and through radio transmissions from vessels at sea.
It was only in 1963—a year before Dading made landfall—when the Philippines installed its first weather observation radar on top of the Weather Bureau’s central office at the port area in Manila. But the rest of the country remained lacking in technology.
To augment this shortcoming, weather observation stations around the country linked with each other using radio transceivers, forming a network of independent meteorological communication system.
Radio became an invaluable asset in weather forecasting throughout that decade. It was through radio where Filipinos first heard about Typhoon Dading and its deadly winds.
Several times a day, the Weather Bureau would update the public about incoming storms based on observations made with instruments and the naked eye from various weather observation stations in the country. The Bureau would broadcast the changing wind speed and direction of typhoons.
Battery-powered transistor radios were the best source of information at the time, especially during power outages.
As Typhoon Dading made landfall at midnight and plunged the affected areas into darkness, households only had their candles and radios throughout the night, waiting out the storm as it lashed the country for hours.
Satellite meteorology only came to the Philippines in 1970. At the time, there were only five weather surveillance radars in the Philippines, whose main mission was to detect and predict typhoons.
Throughout the ’70s, the radio would still prevail as the best instrument in gathering information about the weather. More weather observation stations would be installed throughout the ‘80s and 2000s.
Today, the PAGASA is recognized as one of the world’s most accurate weather forecasting body when it comes to predicting typhoon paths in the Pacific.