Weather plays an important role in our lives. By monitoring the weather, we are equipped to handle our routines and are prepared for possible hazards.
But in this day and age where ideas can be disseminated with the click of a mouse, it’s our responsibility to verify before sharing them. To get you started, here are some weather myths that need to be debunked.
1) Climate and weather are the same.
This is one of the most common weather misconceptions that can be clarified by understanding one important factor – time.
Weather refers to the condition of the atmosphere over a short period of time. It is what we experience when we step outside on any day: sunny, windy, cloudy, rainy or stormy. Climate, on the other hand, refers to how the atmosphere behaves over a relatively long period of time, usually 30 years or more.
2) Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
Originating from an idiom which means that a highly unlikely incident can never happen to the same person twice, this myth–when taken seriously— can actually lead to misfortune.
The truth is that tall, pointed, isolated objects can generate strong electric fields that can be repeatedly struck by lightning.
In the Philippines for example, lightning has struck the Metro Rail Transit lines thrice in the past years, halting operations. In fact, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) explained that cloud-to-ground lightning frequently strikes the ground in two or more places. The chances of being struck are about 45% higher than what most of us commonly assume.
3) Sun + Rains = Tikbalang Wedding
According to Philippine folklore, whenever rains fall while the sun is shining, it means that a mythical creature called tikbalang (a half-human, half horse trickster that hangs out in the forests and mountains, leading travelers astray) is being wed.
PAGASA explains that both sunshine and rain may occur at the same time during the Hot and Dry Season. Called “sun showers”, this happens when the ground surface heats up, resulting to a vertical movement of warm air. This forms clouds that bring precipitation while the sun is at a 30-degree angle from the earth. This weather phenomenon most likely occurs in the months of March, April and May.
4) There is summer in the Philippines.
Summer vacations, summer adventures and summer getaways are some phrases we off-handedly use during school break from March to May. do you know that there is no summer here in the country?
According to PAGASA, the Philippines, being a tropical country, has only two official seasons – wet and dry. A season refers to the time of the year caused by the tilting of the Earth. The location of an area, whether it is in the northern or southern hemisphere, affects its seasons. Other regions have complete seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall.
In Philippine context, the Hot and Dry Season is the equivalent of summer. This marks the start of warm and humid days.
The online community is abuzz after a Miss Earth Philippines contestant shared her insights in the Q & A portion of the beauty pageant.
During the coronation night last June 11, candidates were each given 30 seconds to elaborate on trending topics they had picked from a basket.
Miss Zamboanga, Bellatrix Tran, drew #ElNiñoLaNiña, two weather-related events that are serious global threats.
This was Tan’s answer: “El Niño is what we are facing right now. If we do simple things like planting trees, then we will not experience drought. So if we start now, we will achieve La Niña.” Unfortunately, her last line elicited laughter from the audience and judges.
What should have been her answer:
Everyone should read up on El Niño, a climatic condition wherein an unusual increase in sea surface temperature or warming of the ocean is observed. It mostly affects the agricultural sector due to its effects of reduced rainfall and warmer weather.
In the Philippines, PAGASA confirmed the start of the El Niño phenomenon last May 2015. To date, El Niño is at its decaying stage but has left damages worth P7 billion based on the records of the Department of Agriculture from January to May 2016.
Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines La Niña as a phenomenon characterized by unusually low sea surface temperatures or the cooling of the ocean in the Equatorial Pacific. Its effects may include moderate to strong monsoon activity, moderate to strong tropical cyclones, above-normal rains or above -normal temperatures. A La Niña episode does not always follow an El Niño, but it may happen especially if the latter is a strong one.
As of posting, there is no confirmed occurrence of La Niña, but there is a 50% chance that it will develop in the coming months, according to PAGASA.
Miss Philippines Earth aims to showcase not just nature’s beauty, but to also raise awareness on social concerns and environmental issues, including weather phenomena.
So remember that whether you’re planning to join a beauty contest or not, remember that it pays to be equipped with knowledge on social issues, especially those that are directly affecting our country.
We always hear about it, but do we really know what it really is? Throughout the globe, Climate Change is a pressing concern that has both environmental and human impacts. Let us familiarize ourselves with the key terms related to this global concern, especially since knowledge is the key to action.
Climate is the general weather pattern in a specific area that involves temperature, humidity, rainfall, air pressure and other meteorological variables over a long period of time. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), climate is the average weather condition based on 30 years of observation.
2. Climate Change
The long-term shift in weather patterns in a region is defined as Climate Change. This includes changes in precipitation, temperatures, sea levels and many more. It is also a phenomenon brought by the increased emission of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
According to Dr. Rosa Perez from the Climate Change Commission (CCC), Climate Change can be caused by natural occurrences or induced by humans. Natural causes include the sun’s activity, volcanic eruption and other natural events that contribute to the warming of the earth.
But the problem now is that Climate Change has worsened due to human activities, such as burning of fossil fuels, clearing of forests, improper waste management and production of industrialized products.
Several studies about Climate Change show that it could lead to these extreme weather events and unusual changes in the ecosystem:
– Increase in global temperature
– Sea Level Rise
– Retreat of glaciers and melting of sea ice
– Changes in precipitation
– Heat waves, tornadoes, stronger typhoons and heavy rainfall
– Longer, more severe droughts
– Expansion of subtropical deserts
– Species endangerment and extinction and loss of biodiversity
– Melting of permafrost
– Decline in agricultural yields
– Spread of vector-borne diseases because of increased range of insects
– Ocean acidification and destruction of coral reef
3. Greenhouse Gas & Greenhouse Effect
Greenhouse gas (GHG) is a chemical compound found in the Earth’s atmosphere. Composed of carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and other man-made gases, Greenhouse gases keep our planet liveable by holding in the heat energy of the Earth. These gases allow much of the solar radiation to enter the atmosphere, warming the planet’s surface. Some of this energy is reflected back towards space.
Without greenhouse gases, the Earth will be an icy wasteland. But the problem we face right now is the increasing amount of GHGs in the atmosphere. The more greenhouse gas molecules, more heat is also trapped in the atmosphere due to greenhouse effect. And we all know that too much heat can be just as fatal as the lack of it.
4. Global Warming
The interaction between the earth and incoming radiation from the sun leads to global warming. It is the gradual heating of the Earth’s surface, oceans and atmosphere.
5. Sea Level Rise
Sea level rise, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is the increase in the mean level of the ocean. It is caused by two factors: added water from the melting of land ice, and expansion of water as it warms. Simply put, due to the warming of the Earth, more glaciers or land ice tend to melt. Also, when water is heated, it expands.
6. Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources that formed from prehistoric plants and animals buried by layers of rock or soil millions of years ago. These include oil, coal and natural gas. The formation of a fossil fuel depends on different factors, such as the combination of organic matter, how long it was buried, and its exposure to temperature and pressure.
7. Renewable Energy
Renewable energy is energy naturally regenerated or replenished over a short period of time. Some are derived directly from the sun like thermal or photochemical enegy. Other forms of renewable energy are wind, hydropower, geothermal and tidal.
Using renewable energy will help in combating the impacts of Climate Change because these do not produce greenhouse gases, unlike fossil fuels.
Policies and measures aimed to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions fall under mitigation. It includes reducing the demand for emission-intensive goods or services, while increasing the demand for low-carbon technologies. Mitigation also includes coping with the causes of Climate Change.
Adaptation is adjusting to natural or human systems in response to Climate Change. This could also serve as a practical step to protect communities. If mitigation is coping with the causes or the root of Climate Change, adaptation is coping with its effects.
Examples of Climate Change adaptation is putting up the partial drainage of the Tsho Rolpha glacial lake in Nepal, changing livelihood strategies in response to permafrost melt in Nunavut, Canada, and water management in Australia. In the Philippines, sea walls were built in the coastal areas of Leyte to protect the community from the impact of a storm surge.
V20 refers to the 20 countries that are highly vulnerable to Climate Change impacts. These are low and middle-income, small and developing countries which usually experience the adverse effects of the changing climate. These include Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Maldives, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Ghana, Nepal, East Timor, Barbados, Kenya, Philippines, Tuvalu, Bhutan, Kiribati, Rwanda, Vanuatu, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Saint Lucia and Viet Nam.
The Ridge of High Pressure Area remains to be the dominant weather system, bringing higher temperatures in the Philippines today.
It will continue to bring partly cloudy to cloudy skies or fair weather over Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. However, localized thunderstorms are still expected to form in the afternoon or evening.
You can expect the same weather scenario this weekend, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
Today, Metro Manila’s heat index may reach up to 40.2 degrees Centigrade, the agency added. Everyone is advised to take precautions.
WHEN WILL TAG-INIT END?
State Meteorologist Buddy Javier states that the Hot and Dry season may last until mid-June. By then, the winds will start to shift and usher in more rains.
But in order to fully establish the end of Tag-init, PAGASA has certain criteria in determining the onset of rainy season in the country, particularly in areas under the Type 1 climate, which produces two pronounced seasons:
1. Dry – October to March
2. Wet – April to September
In order for the agency to officially declare the onset of the rainy season, the following conditions must be present:
1. A total rainfall amount of 25 millimeters or more in a five-day period or at least 1 millimeter of rainfall per day in three consecutive days.
2. Criterion #1 must be met in at least five of the following climate Type 1 stations:
* San Jose, Mindoro
* Metro Manila
In order for Metro Manila to be counted, at least 2 out of 3 Metro Manila stations (Science Garden, Port Area, Sangley Point) must have met the first condition.
Meteorology covers a wide variety of terminology that we often hear, but seldom understand and remember. Check out these weather words and be in the know!
Climate is the general weather pattern in a specific area that involves temperature, humidity, rainfall, air pressure and other meteorological variables over a long period of time. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), some scientists define climate as the average weather condition based on 30 years of observation.
It is important to study climate as it plays a big role in our lives. Rising global temperatures can cause sea levels to rise or affect precipitation over a specific region, human health and various ecosystems. Climate change is one of our generation’s major concerns.
Season refers to the time of the year caused by the tilting of the Earth. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) says it is the division of the year based on the recurring astronomical or climatic phenomenon.
However, the location of an area, whether it is in the northern or southern hemisphere, affects its seasons. Other regions have complete seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. Philippines, being a tropical country, has two official seasons – wet and dry. The wet season usually starts in June as the southwest monsoon or habagat prevails. Rainfall during this season is concentrated over the western sections of the country.
Meanwhile, dry season normally starts in March when warm and humid weather is experienced. Though the scorching heat is felt over all the country, PAGASA clarifies that the term “summer” is not applicable to the Philippines. Meteorologically, we only have the wet and dry seasons.
The convergence of winds coming from the northern and southern hemispheres results to group of convective clouds known as the ITCZ or Intertropical Convergence Zone. This weather system affects the country depending on the orientation of the sun or the season. Once it becomes active, it can be a breeding ground of weather disturbances or low pressure areas.
Aside from tropical cyclones, ITCZ is one of the weather systems that cause flooding and landslides because it triggers moderate to heavy precipitation over the affected areas.
PAR means Philippine Area of Responsibility, an area in the Northwest Pacific, where PAGASA monitors tropical cyclones that are expected to affect the country. Once a tropical cyclone enters PAR, it is automatically given a local name so Filipinos can easily remember it.
With a measurement of more than 4 million square kilometres, PAR covers the West Philippine Sea, Bashi Channel over the north, part of the Pacific Ocean in the east and Sulu and Celebes Seas in the south.
One must remember that the Philippine Area of Responsibility is different from the country itself. When we say a tropical cyclone is entering the PAR, it doesn’t mean that it will hit the Philippine landmass. It may still change its course or re-curve away from the country.
Filipinos often hear the southwest monsoon or habagat during the rainy season. Characterized by warm and moist air, it speeds up cloud formation, which dumps rains mostly over the western section of the country.
Once a habagat is enhanced by a tropical cyclone entering PAR, it can bring heavy downpour that may cause widespread flooding.
During the passage of “Ondoy” last 2009 and “Maring” in 2013, habagat brought enormous amounts to Luzon, which led to serious flooding.
After habagat comes the northeast monsoon or amihan, a wind system characterized by cold and dry air coming from Mainland China. It normally starts to prevail during mid-October just like this year, when its onset was officially declared by PAGASA on October 16, 2014.
Amihan is responsible for colder mornings and lower temperatures during the “ber” months. It also affects sea conditions and may direct tropical cyclones towards the Philippine landmass with a higher chance of landfall.
PAGASA issues thunderstorm warnings everyday mostly in the afternoon or evening. A thunderstorm is a weather disturbance that produces rains, gusty winds, lightning and thunder.
Thunderstorm formation occurs through water cycle, wherein heat serves as the main component. As the sun heats up the land or a body of water, warm air rises, producing clouds by means of condensation. Once the cloud becomes massive, precipitation follows in the form of rain, drizzle or hail.
Along with gusty winds and moderate to heavy rains, thunder and lightning also occur during a thunderstorm. Lightning is caused by the connection of the positive charges at the top of the cloud and the negative charges formed at the bottom. Due to lightning, thunder is produced by vibration of air particles.
Flooding in low lying areas is expected during thunderstorms.
8. TROPICAL CYCLONE
Tropical cyclone is the general term for a “bagyo,” which starts out from a cloud cluster that develops into a low pressure area (LPA), an area that has an atmospheric pressure lower than its surrounding locations.
A tropical cyclone is classified into three: Tropical Depression, Tropical Storm and Typhoon. Each of these is measured by its maximum wind speeds and not by its amount of rainfall. An average of 19 to 21 tropical cyclones enter PAR each year.
Landfall happens when the surface of a tropical cyclone intersects with a coastline. In this scenario, the landmass or the affected area will experience stormy weather with moderate to heavy rains and gusty winds. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it is possible for a cyclone’s strongest winds to be experienced over land even if landfall does not occur. In some instances, its strongest winds could also remain over the water even if it made its landfall.
Tropical cyclones can have a series of landfalls like what happened to Typhoon Yolanda wherein 6 landfall activities were recorded on the 8th of November 2013.
10. STORM SURGE
Storm surge is the abnormal rise in sea level associated with a tropical storm or typhoon. It is usually measured by deducting the normal high tide from the observed storm tide.
This event is never related to tsunami, which is a sea level rise brought by a strong earthquake. A tsunami is triggered by underwater seismic activities while a storm surge is generated by strong winds from a storm.
Sources: PAGASA-DOST, NOAA, NASA