Rising temperatures, sweltering heat, and that sticky feeling – there’s no doubt that we’re already experiencing tag-init! To help you understand those weather reports better, here are some of the meteorological terms that you will often encounter this season:
1. DRY SEASON
Technically, we do not have “summer”. The Philippines, being a tropical country, has only two official seasons – wet and dry. Summer is experienced in temperate regions with four seasons. In our country, Dry season or tag-init is the equivalent of summer.
These are warm and humid winds coming from the Pacific Ocean, which usually affect the eastern section of the country. However, since warm air or heat is a major factor for cloud formation, Easterlies can also generate isolated thunderstorms, mostly in the afternoon or evening.
3. RIDGE OF HPA
“Ridge” refers to the extended part of a High Pressure Area or an anticyclone. Unlike a Low Pressure Area, this indicates an area where the atmospheric pressure is higher than its surroundings.
Formation of clouds is usually suppressed, thus, less chance of rains. Fair weather is typically experienced when a Ridge of High Pressure Area extends over the archipelago.
4. GENERALLY FAIR WEATHER
Many people still get confused when they hear this. Generally fair weather means partly cloudy to cloudy skies with chances of isolated rain showers or thunderstorms. Less than half of the day will be cloudy, but rains are still possible, depending on the prevailing weather system.
On the other hand, “isolated” means localized. This means that it may be raining in your place, but not in the nearby areas. It happens when clouds are scattered in different parts of the atmosphere.
5. AIR TEMPERATURE
Air temperature is determined by using a weather instrument, commonly a thermometer. Also termed as “surface temperature”, it is obtained when a thermometer is exposed to the air but is sheltered from direct sun exposure.
Humidity is the amount of water vapor or moisture in the air. It can make high temperatures even more unbearable, often with a moist or “malagkit” feeling. Humidity is an important factor that affects the weather and climate as well.
7. HEAT INDEX
Also called as “human discomfort index”, heat index refers to the temperature obtained from the high air temperature and relative humidity. It also describes how the human body perceives the heat or the warm weather.
PAGASA says full exposure to sunlight may increase the heat index by 9 degrees Celsius. PAGASA Weather Forecaster Aldczar Aurelio says the heat index is always higher than the actual air temperature. High heat indices could lead to fatigue, heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Despite the fact that we are already in Tag-init Season, we may still experience rains brought by thunderstorms. Most people get confused when a downpour occurs after hours of scorching heat.
According to Former US Vice President Al Gore, also the founder of the Climate Reality Project, warmer air holds more moisture. Heat also speeds up the evaporation, bringing more clouds, which could later dump moderate to heavy rains.
During a thunderstorm, lightning and thunder also occur, along with gusty winds. Thunderstorms usually occur in the afternoon or evening, which can last for 1 to 2 hours.
9. EL NIÑO
El Niño is a climatic condition wherein an unusual increase in sea surface temperature (SST) or warming of the ocean is observed. In the Philippines, it mostly affects the agricultural sector due to reduced rainfall and warmer weather.
PAGASA says the prevailing El Niño may also have an effect on the current Hot and Dry season. Temperatures may continue to rise, and the duration of tag-init may be prolonged as well.
10. 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), which has an atmospheric pressure lower than its surrounding locations.
One common misconception during tag-init is that it’s not normal to have a Tropical Cyclone. Every month, there is a chance for a Tropical Cyclone to enter or develop within the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).
In fact, we monitored “Bagyong Chedeng” just last year and it coincided with the observance of the Holy Week. Chedeng intensified as a Typhoon and even made landfall in Isabela.
This April, the average number of tropical cyclone is 0 or 1. When it comes to the track, it may make landfall or may re-curve northward away from the landmass.
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The northeast monsoon prevails over Luzon, bringing cloudy skies with light rains over Batanes, Calayan and Babuyan Groups of Islands.
Metro Manila and the remaining parts of the country can enjoy fair weather today.
In related news, the monsoon brings strong to gale force winds, prompting PAGASA to release a new gale warning over the northern seaboards of Northern Luzon. Rough to very rough sea conditions are expected in the coasts of Batanes, Calayan, Cagayan, and the northern coasts of Cagayan and Ilocos Norte.
The agency advises against sea travel along these coastal waters in the following hours as waves may reach up to 4.5 meters.
FIRE PREVENTION MONTH
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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.
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.
The low pressure area (LPA) monitored outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) has already weakened into cloud clusters. As of now, no weather disturbance is affecting any part of the country.
The ridge of a high pressure area prevails over Northern Luzon, bringing fair weather over Cagayan Valley, and the Cordillera and Ilocos Regions. Metro Manila and the rest of the archipelago will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.
PAGASA Weather Forecaster Samuel Duran said this ridge will continue to affect the Philippines in the next coming days as we approach the official hot and dry season. The prevailing presence of the high pressure area causes rising temperatures in most parts of the country including Metro Manila.
Yesterday, a scorching temperature of 33.5 degrees Celsius was recorded at 1:50 PM at the PAGASA Science Garden, Quezon City. For today’s temperature, Metro Manila will experience 21 to 33 degrees Celsius while Metro Cebu can expect 25 to 31 degrees Celsius. A range of 25 to 33 degrees Celsius is expected over Metro Davao.
Avalanche forms over Afghanistan
More than 100 people have died in Afghanistan due to an avalanche triggered by heavy winter snow. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) defined an avalanche as a rapid flow of snow down a hill or mountainside. It occurs in certain times of the year particularly during the Winter Season.
Meanwhile, according to the National Disasters Association (NDA), the avalanche is derived from the French word “avalance” which means descent. It is a mass of snow, sometimes mixed with ice and debris travelling down the mountainside.
According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Samuel Duran, it is also called a “snow slide,” similar to landslide but instead of soil or rocks, snow and ice falls down from the mountainous areas.