Destructive typhoon “Ulysses” (international name: “Vamco”) will soon be retired by the state weather bureau from its list of tropical cyclone names after leaving massive damage to infrastructure and agriculture in the country.

pagasa - PAGASA to retire “Ulysses” from its list of tropical cyclone names
PAGASA logo (MANILA BULLETIN)

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said it has been “decommissioning” or removing names of storms from the list of tropical cyclone names when these are particularly deadly or destructive.

PAGASA weather specialist Ariel Rojas said decommissioning local storm names depends on two criteria — over 300 casualties or/and the cost of damages to infrastructure and agriculture amounts to P1 billion or more.

As of Friday, November 13, officials said Ulysses has left over P5 billion worth of damage to infrastructure and agriculture based on preliminary reports.

The Department of Agriculture estimated the amount of agricultural damage due to the typhoon at ₱969.8 million worth of crops and other assets, while in structures, some P4.254 billion in losses were incurred according to the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Considering this, Venus Valdemoro of PAGASA’s Public Information Unit said the bureau will likely decommission or retire the name “Ulysses” from its list of tropical cyclone names.

“[Ulysses] will automatically be decommissioned because of the rules, but it will also be replaced with a name of a person or thing starting with the same letter of decommissioned tropical cyclone name,” Valdemoro explained.

Ulysses already left the Philippine area of responsibility on Friday morning after it pummeled Luzon with howling gusts and torrential heavy rains that triggered massive flooding in low-lying areas.

It is the country’s 21st tropical cyclone this year, already above the annual average of 20 storms due to the onset of La Niña.

So far, Rojas said four tropical cyclone names from the 2020 list were up for decommissioning which were “Ambo, “Quinta,” “Rolly,” and “Ulysses” as the amount of damage during their passage in the country exceeded ₱1 billion.

PAGASA said the decommissioning of destructive storms has been practiced since February, 1979.

In 2011, five tropical cyclones namely Bebeng, Juaning, Mina, and Pedring were retired by PAGASA, while five storm names have also been decommissioned in 2014 — Glenda, Jose, Mario, Ruby, and Seniang.

Its list of tropical cyclone names consists of four sets of 25 names, with 10 auxiliary or “reserved” names. Should the number of tropical cyclones within the year exceeds 25, an auxiliary list is used.

The sets of names were used every four years, from 2019-2022, 2023-2026, 2027-2030, and onward.

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