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A weather disturbance is still being monitored by PAGASA within the Philippine premises. The Low Pressure Area (LPA) was last spotted at 500 kilometers east of Casiguran, Aurora. Despite its slim chance of developing into a Tropical Cyclone, its cloudiness extends over the archipelago.

The entire Visayas and Mindanao, as well Bicol Region and MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) will experience cloudy skies with scattered rain showers and thunderstorms. Meanwhile, Metro Manila and the rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with chances of isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.

On the other hand, the Southwest Monsoon or Hanging Habagat is no longer dominant within the PAR, but this doesn’t mean that the Habagat season has ended. According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Robert “Obet” Badrina, we are not in the transition period yet. Badrina noted that the Habagat can still return. The transition of wind patterns usually occurs in October. However, the public is still advised to monitor further development including the arrival of the Amihan season.

Autumnal Equinox

PAGASA’s Astronomical Diary shows that the Autumnal Equinox will occur on September 23, 2017 at around 4:03 AM. Derived from the latin word aequus, which means equal, and nox meaning night, the equinox refers to the time of the year where day and night are of approximately equal duration.

Badrina said this astronomical event will not have a significant effect on our weather aside from causing longer nights in the Philippines. Since longer nights equate to shorter exposure to sunlight, colder weather may gradually begin especially when Amihan becomes dominant.

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Aside from marking the first ber month of the year, one of the most exciting events that we look forward to this month is the Autumnal Equinox. Equinox is derived from two latin words: aequus meaning equal, and nox, which means night. Also known as the September equinox, this event will happen today, September 23, 2015 at around 4:20 PM (Philippine Standard Time) according to PAGASA.

During the equinox, the sun passes directly over the earth’s equator. This means there is nearly the same length of day and night time. Every year, two equinoxes occur: the Vernal Equinox (March) and Autumnal Equinox (September).

The northern hemisphere will now say goodbye to summer as the equinox indicates another season – autumn. This also coincides with different traditional and cultural observances throughout the globe.

In Ancient Greece, the September equinox is a sign of fall or autumn. Fall, in Greek mythology, is associated with the goddess Persephone, who returned to the underworld to be with her husband.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the equinox plays a big role in the oral traditions of the Indigenous Australian culture. Chinese people also highlight this event, which they call Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival, a celebration of the summer’s harvest. One of the main foods served, is the mooncake, which is filled with lotus, sesame seeds, duck egg or dried fruit.

Photo: http://orichinese.com/
Photo: http://orichinese.com/


In Japan, “Higan” is observed during equinoxes every year. For them, it is a time to remember the dead by visiting, cleaning and decorating their graves.

PAGASA explains that the equinox does not have a significant effect on Philippine weather, aside from the longer nights expected after the astronomical event. This is because the sun will move below the celestial equator towards the southern hemisphere. In December, the longest night of the year will be experienced, marking the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere.

Sources:
PAGASA-DOST
NASA
http://www.timeanddate.com/

A few days before September, netizens were already expressing their enthusiasm over the approaching “ber” months. For us, Filipinos, the holiday season unofficially begins at this period, when we anticipate the most festive time of the year.






But as we await the Christmas season, the weather also undergoes changes. Normally, this month, the southwest monsoon or hanging habagat gradually weakens. Since its onset on June, the habagat has been causing heavy downpour, experienced mostly in the western section of the country.

After the habagat, the winds will shift, giving way to the northeast monsoon or hanging amihan. This weather system usually kicks in late October, bringing cold and dry air. The presence of amihan may also mean slightly cooler mornings mostly in the northern part of Luzon. In 2014, the onset of amihan occurred on October 16.
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Aside from the anticipated arrival of amihan, there is also an interesting astronomical event to look forward to this month – the Autumnal or September Equinox. Derived from the latin word aequus meaning equal, and nox, which means night, equinox refers to the time of the year where there is equal day and night time.

PAGASA’s astronomical diary says that the equinox will occur on September 23, 2015 at 4:20 PM. This event will mark the start of longer nights in the Philippines as the sun moves below the celestial equator. Longer nights equate to shorter exposure to sunlight, thus, colder weather may slowly begin after the equinox.

Meanwhile, in December, we will have the shortest day and the longest night of the year, marking the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere. Although the Philippines does not have winter, we experience cooler temperatures at this time because we are located in the northern half of the Earth.

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However, with the prevailing El Niño phenomenon, PAGASA says temperatures this year may not be as low as the previous year’s. El Niño is the unusual warming of the ocean and rising sea surface temperature (SST) over the Central and Eastern Equatorial Pacific (CEEP).

Latest forecasts from different weather and climate agencies show that El Niño may strengthen and continue beyond the ber months, lasting until May of 2016. The usual chilly ber months may become a little warmer this year, except in the mountainous areas in the north.

Sources:
PAGASA-DOST
World Meteorological Organization

Blooming daffodils, a songbird at dawn and the warmth of the afternoon sun – spring is coming!

Vernal Equinox, also called “March Equinox” or “Spring Equinox,” marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The word equinox is derived from the Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night).

During equinox, the sun crosses from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere. At some point, the sun shines directly over the earth’s equator, providing each of the earth’s hemispheres with almost the same amount of sunlight. A nearly equal amount of daylight and darkness at all latitudes is a result of the tilting of the Earth’s axis neither toward nor away from the sun.

Equinox means the day and night will be in approximately equal length. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the “nearly” equal hours of day and night are due to the refraction of sunlight or bending of the light’s rays, causing the sun to appear above the horizon when the actual position of the sun is below it.

This event takes place at the same moment across the world. In the Philippines, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said it will happen on March 21 at 6:45 AM in Philippine Standard Time (PST). It occurs when the motion of the sun allows it to pass the first point of Aries, an imaginary location in the sky.

Since we only have two official seasons here, the vernal equinox does not herald spring, but will mark the start of longer number of hours during the day. Because it takes the sun longer to rise and set, days become a little longer at the higher latitudes. According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Gener Quitlong, higher temperatures will begin as we get longer exposure from sun rays.

Spring as seen from space

Fireball Season

Bill Cooke of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said the rate of bright meteors or fireballs increases during the weeks around the vernal equinox. In spring, fireballs are more abundant– the nightly rate reaching 10% to 30% higher than usual. Fireballs are meteors brighter than the planet Venus. Studies have shown that aside from the fireballs, meteorites are also common in spring.

Photo: http://apod.nasa.gov/
Photo Credit: http://apod.nasa.gov/

Aurora Season

Scientists found out that the weeks around the vernal equinox are prone to Northern Lights. The bright dancing lights of the aurora are caused by the collision between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. NASA has deployed a fleet of five spacecraft to study auroras and was named THEMIS (short for “Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms”).

It was discovered that magnetic connections between the Sun and Earth are favorable during springtime. During equinox, the magnetic field of the Earth is best oriented for “connecting” with the sun, giving way for solar wind energy to flow in and spark Northern Lights.

Photo Credit: Jeffrey R. Hapeman of Lac du Flambeau, Wis.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey R. Hapeman of Lac du Flambeau, Wis.

Sources:
PAGASA-DOST
NASA
NOAA
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/31mar_springfireballs/
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/themis/auroras/aurora_live.html#.VQt9rI6UfZE
http://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-spring-vernal-equinox
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/?n=clifeatures_springequinox
http://www.northernlightscentre.ca/northernlights.html

No weather disturbance is expected to threaten the Philippines within the next three days.

Today, the weak northeast monsoon brings, at times cloudy skies and isolated light rains, over the islands of Batanes, Calayan and Babuyan.

The remaining parts of the country, including Metro Manila, will have a fair weather apart from localized thunderstorms.

MTSAT Image from PAGASA.
MTSAT Image from PAGASA.

Meanwhile, March 20 marks the beginning of Spring in the Northern hemisphere with the vernal equinox.

The word “equinox” translates to “equal night”, wherein the Sun crosses directly over the Earth’s equator making the day and night almost equal in length all over the globe.

As the people in the north welcomes Spring, those below the equator, will experience lowering of temperatures as the autumnal equinox sets in.

This astronomical phenomenon occurs in the northern hemisphere every year –the vernal equinox around March 20 or 21 and the autumnal equinox during September 22 or 23. People south of the equator also experience the same in opposite dates.

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We, Filipinos are known, not only for our hospitality, but also for having the longest Christmas celebration in the world. As early as the first day of September, which marks the beginning of the “Ber Months,” Christmas carols can be heard in establishments, reminding everyone that the yuletide season is just a few months away.

One of the exciting events during “ber months” is the Autumnal Equinox. According to PAGASA, it will happen on September 23, Tuesday, at 10:29 am in Philippine Standard Time.

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During the equinox, there will be equal lengths of day and night, meaning there will be 12 hours of daytime and 12 hours of night time. Instead of a tilt away from or towards the sun, the earth’s axis of rotation is perpendicular to the sun rays. After this, Philippine nights will be longer as the Sun moves below the celestial equator towards the southern hemisphere. Longer nights also mean shorter exposure to sunlight. That’s why a slight temperature drop can be expected.

Meanwhile, December 21 will have the shortest day and the longest night of the year, marking the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere. Although the Philippines does not have winter, we experience cooler temperatures at this time because we are located in the northern half of the Earth.

The onset of the Northeast Monsoon or “Amihan,” which brings cold and dry air, is also a major factor of cold weather. According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Fernando Cada, this usually occurs during late October. The onset of Amihan could mean a slight chill during early mornings, mostly in parts of Luzon.

The peak of Amihan is in January, and most likely to last until February. January is one of the coldest months of the year. Northern, elevated provinces like Benguet usually experience the lowest temperatures, allowing the formation of frost in their vegetable farms.

Last year, PAGASA declared the onset of Amihan on October 17, 2013. The weather bureau observed the development of high pressure areas over mainland China, which shifted the wind direction, bringing cold and dry air over the Extreme Northern Luzon.

Currently, PAGASA continues to monitor the probability of a “weak El Niño” in the last quarter of 2014. This phenomenon, which is characterized by unusually warm ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, might affect the weather patterns in the country. While temperatures may be higher than normal, breezes may not be as cold as expected. Rainfall below the normal level may also be experienced in the coming months.

SOURCE: PAGASA