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In just a few hours, we will be welcoming a new year! As much as we love to treat ourselves to a joyous moment with our friends and families, there is also a need to celebrate with caution. Here are a few tips to ensure that you’ll enter a new phase safely.

1. Skip the firecrackers.
As of December 28, 2017, the Department of Health (DOH) has already recorded 61 firecracker-related injuries nationwide. This figure is a lot lower than the reported cases last year which blasted to more than 600. While a significant decrease has been observed this year, we can still minimize the number of injuries by refraining from using firecrackers.

In compliance to President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 28, private citizens are banned from using firecrackers or staging fireworks displays in their residential areas. Meanwhile, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), together with the Local Government Units (LGUs), has already identified official firecracker zones and fireworks display zones in Metro Manila. The public is reminded about the cities with a complete firecracker ban which include Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Pasig and Pateros.

2. Opt for alternative noisemakers.
The New Year’s celebration isn’t complete without making noise. Because of the firecracker ban, indulge in alternative ways of ending the year with a bang, such as blowing loud horns and whistles, banging pots and pans or turning up your radio.

3. Celebrate the budget-friendly way.
There are several groups or organizations that organize events such as New Year countdowns, concerts, fireworks displays and more. You can search the net for activities that are scheduled to pump up the crowd and create memorable New Year experiences.

4. Show extra love to your pets.
Sudden loud noises can stress your furry friends at home. As a responsible pet owner, give extra attention to your precious animals so they won’t panic. Make sure to keep them inside a room with comforting music to drown out the noise. More tips from this report:

5. Monitor the weather and other news.
Amidst the celebration, our safety must always be a priority. Along with the changing dates are also the changes in our weather. Tropical cyclones and other weather disturbances may hamper your plans so take time to monitor updates and other announcements.

The Low Pressure Area (LPA) has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) and was last spotted at 960 km east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. PAGASA Weather Forecaster Samuel Duran said that if it develops into a Tropical Cyclone, it will be named “Agaton”, the first “bagyo” for 2018. Based on the initial track of the weather bureau, it is expected to traverse Eastern Visayas or Eastern Mindanao area tomorrow afternoon or on Tuesday morning.

Apart from the LPA, two other weather systems prevail. These include the Tail-end of a Cold Front affecting Bicol Region and Eastern Visayas and the Northeast Monsoon or Hanging Amihan affecting Northern and Central Luzon. Bicol Region and Eastern Visayas will have a rainy finale for the year due to cloudy skies with scattered rain showers and thunderstorms.


Meanwhile, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Aurora and Quezon will experience cloudy skies with scattered rains. Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rains. The remaining parts of the archipelago will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers.


Gale warning is still in effect in the seaboards of Northern Luzon and the eastern seaboard of Central Luzon, as well as the eastern and western seaboards of Southern Luzon and Visayas. Fishing boats and other small seacraft are not allowed to venture out into the sea while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves.


The surge of Hanging Amihan continues to affect temperatures, bringing colder weather mostly in the early morning. PAGASA has recorded the following temperatures yesterday, December 30, 2017:

Baguio City – 12.7°C
Tanay, Rizal – 16.0°C
Itbayat, Batanes – 18.5°C

From weather and the environment, to disaster preparedness and climate change, 2017 has been a year of changes and adaptation. As we welcome the New Year, let’s look back at past issues which have helped shape the future.

WEATHER AND CLIMATE

PAGASA began using impact-based weather forecasting this year, wherein apart from forecasting weather conditions, effects of weather disturbances are also explained. This emphasizes the effects of a hazard rather than merely identifying it. Impact-based forecasting and warning services focus on translating meteorological and hydrological hazards into specific impacts, and the development of responses to mitigate such impacts. ​This year, 22 tropical cyclones visited the Philippines with the last two as the most devastating.

PAGASA’s names for tropical cyclones in 2017

On December 13, the Low Pressure Area in Surigao del Sur intensified into a Tropical Depression and was named Urduja. Three days later, it made landfall in Eastern Samar, and continued to traverse Masbate, Sibuyan and Cuyo Islands and Taytay, Palawan. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), 1.8 million individuals were displaced by “Urduja,” while 47 perished. Right after “Urduja” exited the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), Tropical Depression Vinta took over. Heavy rains from the storm inundated parts of Visayas and Mindanao where flash floods and landslides occurred. On December 22 and 23, the storm hit Cateel, Davao Oriental and Balabac, Palawan respectively. 720,000 were displaced, while 163 were reported dead.

Widespread flood in Cagayan de Oro/Cagayan De Oro Facebook page

In the last quarter of the year, PAGASA warned Filipinos to prepare for a developing La Niña, a weather phenomenon characterized by above-normal rainfall, colder temperatures and stronger winds from the east. According to the Climate Information Monitoring and Prediction Section of the weather bureau, the La Niña is not expected to last beyond March 2018 but the public is still alerted against possible effects.

Possible sectoral impacts of La Nina

Abroad, Hurricane Harvey swept through Texas in August where it killed 82 people and dumped 51 inches of rain, the greatest amount ever recorded from a single storm in the continental United States. In September, Hurricane Irma left a trail of destruction, taking 69 lives and displacing 1.2 million people in the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria struck in Dominca and Puerto Rico lastmonth, causing more than 1,000 deaths. Heavy rains also crippled Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India and Nepal this year.

Aerial footage shows damage to Salt Grass Landing Apartments in Rockport, Texas, after Hurricane Harvey / Associated Press

 

ENVIRONMENT

Efforts to protect the environment continued in 2017. In February, the former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez announced the cancellation of 75 contracts of mining firms that according to her “kills the watershed and kills our lives.” Three months later, Lopez’s confirmation of office was rejected by the Commission on Appointments. It was followed by a series of protests, which involved blocking the DENR head office gates in Quezon City, as the group disputed the alleged control of business interests in the government.

Gina Lopez speaks to protesters in DENR office

While Lopez was dethroned, another woman with a heart for the environment was crowned. In November, our very own Karen Ibasco was named Miss Earth 2017 with her winning answer to the pageant’s question: “Who or what do you think is the biggest enemy of Mother Earth and why?” Her reply was “I believe that the real problem in this world is not climate change; the real problem is us because of our ignorance and apathy. What we have to do is to start changing our ways, to start recalibrating our minds, and redirecting our steps, because together, as a global community, our micro efforts will have a macro effect to help save our home, our planet.”

Earth warrior Karen Ibasco became the fourth Filipina to be crowned as Miss Earth since the pageant began in 2001. She followed the footsteps of Karla Henry (2008), Jamie Herrell (2014) and Angelia Ong (2015). philstar.com/EFIGENIO TOLEDO IV

 

DISASTERS AND PREPAREDNESS

Earthquakes also remained as the country’s staple disaster. The strongest among these were recorded in Tongkil in Sulu, Surigao del Norte, Batangas, Lanao del Sur, Davao Occidental and Ormoc in Leyte. The April earthquake in Mabini, Batangas recorded an Intensity 7 ground shaking and was felt in Cavite, Oriental Mindoro, Bulacan, Metro Manila, Quezon, Pampanga and Camarines Norte. Six persons were reported injured, and a state of calamity was declared in Mabini, Tingloy and Batangas City.

Photo taken by Rod Ebora Panganiban, shows fallen rocks blocking a road in Batangas following a series of tremors

In November, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised Alert Level 2 in Mt. Kanlaon in Negros Occidental after it showed an intrusion of magma that could lead to the volcano’s eruption. To prepare the country for future earthquakes, Phivolcs held simultaneous drills across the archipelago in every quarter of the year.

Abroad, wild fires, droughts, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes also happened in 2017. In January, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake jolted Italy that resulted to 300 deaths. Almost 400 people were reported dead in a magnitude 8.2 tremor in Mexico last September. The year’s deadliest earthquake stuck Iran-Iraq boarders in November, killing 452 individuals and injuring thousands. In January, Chile and Portugal witnessed the worst wildfires in their countries’ histories. Blazes gutted Napa Valley, California in October, killing more than 40 people in the state’s deadliest wildfire. Just weeks later, Los Angeles’ highways were transformed into a hot hellscape as hills broke out in flames.

CLIMATE CHANGE

While United States President Donald Trump announced the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, talks about mitigating climate change continued. In June, the leader of the world’s second biggest carbon emitter said that the agreement imposed unfair environment standards in the US.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November, negotiators from almost 200 countries approved a five-year work plan on “loss and damage” to formally address slow-onset impacts of climate change, non-economic losses and migration. Meanwhile, 47 of the world’s poorest countries, committed to generating 100% of their energy from renewable sources as soon as possible. They also pledged to update their nationally determined contributions before 2020 and to prepare long-term strategies.

UNFCCC

2017 brought immense challenges on a global scale. But with each trial came the need to change the way we respond to issues on weather, environment, disasters and climate change. As we face another year, we come equipped with the lessons that we learned from the past year.

Satellite image as of 11:00 AM
 
The cloud cluster located east of Mindanao has developed into a Low Pressure Area.
 
At 8:00 AM today, the LPA was located at 1,175 kilometres east of the region. In an interview with Panahon TV, PAGASA Weather Forecaster Gener Quitlong said that LPA may enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) today or tomorrow, December 31. On January 1, 2018, the LPA may develop into a tropical depression and will be named Agaton.
 
As an LPA or a tropical depression, the weather disturbance’s possible landfall will be on Eastern Visayas-Eastern Mindanao area between Monday afternoon or Tuesday early morning . Residents of areas mentioned are alerted for heavy to occasionally intense rains as the weather disturbance approaches landmass.
 
Today, Tail-end of a Cold Front and the Northeast Monsoon will dump rains to some areas. Bicol Region, Eastern and Central Visayas and Caraga will have cloudy skies with scattered rain showers and thunderstorms, making flash floods and landslides possible. In Cagayan Valley, Cordillera, Aurora and Quezon, cloudy skies with scattered rains will be experienced. Over Metro Manila, Ilocos Region, the rest of Central Luzon and the rest of CALABARZON, partly cloudy to cloudy skies will dominate with isolated rains. In the rest of the country, partly cloudy to cloudy skies will be experienced only with isolated rain showers.
 

The last Friday of 2017 may be rainy in several parts of the archipelago due to the prevailing weather systems. The Tail-end of a Cold Front is affecting the eastern section of Southern Luzon and Visayas while the Northeast Monsoon or Hanging Amihan is still dominant in the Northern and Central Luzon.

In the next hours, Visayas and Bicol Region will cloudy have skies with scattered rain showers and thunderstorms brought by the Tail-end of a Cold Front. Residents are advised to monitor updates as flooding is possible in low-lying areas.

Apart from the cold weather, Amihan will also bring cloudy skies with scattered rains in Cagayan Valley, Cordillera, Aurora and Quezon. Metro Manila, Ilocos Region and the rest of Central Luzon and of CALABARZON will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rains. MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) and Mindanao will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers.

On the other hand, the possibility for the cloud cluster outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) to develop into a Low Pressure Area (LPA) remains high. PAGASA Weather Forecaster Samuel Duran said it may develop into an LPA within the day and may also intensify as a Tropical Cyclone. Thus, it may be the last “bagyo” that will enter the PAR this year or could also be the first one for 2018. The public is advised to monitor updates and further development.

Here’s a look at the Philippines’ names for tropical cyclones this 2018.

PAGASA has 4 sets of tropical cyclone names that are used every 4 years.


 
State weather bureau has released a statement regarding posts circulating in social media about a Super Typhoon that would apparently affect the country in January 2018.
 
PRESS RELEASE
 
“There were rumours circulating in social media platform like Facebook regarding a super typhoon that might affect the country this coming January 2018. The current weather analysis shows that there is a possible formation of tropical cyclone this coming January 2018. Based on historical records, it is normal for the month of January to have 0-1 tropical cyclone. But, predicting the tropical cyclone intensity to reach super typhoon category for more than 1 week ahead has a very high uncertainty. The atmosphere is very dynamic hence constant monitoring is necessary.
 
The general public is advised to be more careful, verify information and listen only to right authority so as not to cause panic. Furthermore, everyone is advised to access only the official information from PAGASA thru our website https://www1.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/ or thru our official Facebook page www.facebook.com/PAGASA.DOST.GOV.PH.
 
ESPERANZA O. CAYANAN, Ph.D.”

 
With this, the public is advised to exercise caution when sharing critical information such as warnings regarding hazards.

 
Vinta, the country’s 22nd tropical cyclone this 2017 brought rains to Mindanao that inundated parts of the region.
 
Here are some scenes of flooding caused by the storm:
 

 

 

 


A new Low Pressure Area (LPA) has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR). At 10:00 AM, it was located at 925 kilometers East of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. PAGASA Weather Forecaster Samuel Duran said it may develop into a Tropical Depression within the next 24 to 48 hours and will be called by its local name, Vinta. It may intensify into a Tropical Storm before making its landfall in Eastern Mindanao on Friday, December 22. Its trough will bring scattered rains in Caraga and Davao Region.



Meanwhile, the Tail-End of a Cold Front continues to affect the eastern section of Northern and Central Luzon, bringing scattered rain showers and thunderstorms in Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera, Central Luzon, Rizal and Northern Quezon including Polillo Island. Residents are alerted against possible flash floods or landslides due to scattered light to moderate to, at times, heavy rains. Meanwhile, the Northeast Monsoon or Amihan will bring scattered rains in the Ilocos Region.



The surge of Amihan brings rough to very rough sea conditions in the northern and eastern seaboards of Northern and Central Luzon, and the western seaboard of Southern Luzon. Fishing boats and other small seacraft are advised not to venture out into the sea, while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves.