By Francis Allan L. Angelo

RESIDENTS of more than 40 houses damaged by a tornado in Pototan, Iloilo the other day are appealing for help from the local government and private sector.

Reports from the Iloilo Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) said the twister destroyed 44 houses in Barangay Pajo in Pototan, Iloilo 3:30pm Wednesday.

A total of 16 houses were totally destroyed while 28 were partially damaged.

The tornado, which struck for 20 minutes, also destroyed electric distribution lines, streetlights and farms.

Two minors were among those injured during the twister attack.

According to radio reports, the residents heard a whirring sound before the tornado struck. They were surprised when the roofs of their houses were dismantled by an invisible force.

Jerry Bionat, executive officer of the PDCC, said tornadoes have occurred in the towns of Pototan, Leganes and Estancia before.

“These areas are prone to tornado strikes,” he added.

Pototan town officials are verifying the number of residents affected by the twister before declaring the area a state of calamity and provide aid to the victims.

Weather bureau PAGASA observed the spiking number of tornadoes in the country due to easy communication and reporting of the incidents.

PAGASA also observed that tornadoes that struck the country had intensities of F1 and F2 on the Fujita scale which is used to rate the intensity of a tornado by examining the damage it causes after passing over man-made structures.

F1 is a “moderate tornado” with wind speeds reaching between 117 and 180 kilometers per hour. This means the tornado can peel the surface off roofs and push cars off roads.

F2 means it is a “significant tornado” with wind speeds reaching from 181 to 252 kilometers per hour. This means it can tear off roofs from house frames, snap or uproot large trees and generate light objects as missiles.

The National Severe Storms Laboratory, a division under the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said tornadoes usually accompany tropical cyclones.

Before thunderstorms develop, a change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed produce a horizontal spinning column of air in the lower atmosphere.

When the thunderstorm comes, rising air within the system tilts the rotating air from a horizontal to a vertical position, forming a tornado.

PAGASA describes tornadoes as “small weather systems,” which could be unpredictable and could form and vanish quickly. They can also be accompanied by lightning, thunder and hale.