Weather forecasts are essential today as they were centuries ago. Our ancestors used observation methods to predict the weather, such as the loud croaking of frogs and the animals’ frantic scramble for shelter, believed to indicate imminent rain or stormy weather. Rain may also be preceded by a red sunrise, cloud towers on mountains, and a starless sky. The sound and sight of giant waves rolling are signs of a looming storm.

Meanwhile, the change of seasons is seen through the ripening of certain fruits. The proliferation of duhat, kaimito, langka and melon happens during the dry season, while the abundance of durian, guyabano, santol and siniguelas signifies the wet season. These observations are especially useful to farmers, sailors, and fishermen whose livelihoods are weather-based.  

Fast forward to modern times, and weather forecasts are now available across all media platforms. Despite their accessibility, many are not aware of how much work is involved in coming up with reliable forecasts. According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Aldczar Aurelio, the process requires several steps and the use of weather instruments. “We analyze weather maps (current and previous data), interpret the weather data coming from synoptic stations, monitor the images from weather satellites, analyze the outputs of numerical meteorological weather prediction, and discuss with fellow weather forecasters. It’s also important to know weather patterns or the behavior of weather systems for particular months or seasons.” 



The Importance of Weather Forecasts

Because of our country’s geographical location, the Philippines is prone to natural disasters including tropical cyclones. According to PAGASA, about 20 tropical cyclones enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility, bringing with them hazards such as floods and destruction.

In October last year, Typhoon Ulysses entered the country during the pandemic, causing 67 deaths and more than P16 billion damage in agriculture and infrastructure. Though typhoons cannot be prevented, impacts can be mitigated through preparedness. According to Aurelio, weather forecasts can help in the following:


PAGASA Weather Specialist Aldczar Aurelio 


Observing Weather on Your Own

Should you find yourself in a situation that hinders you from receiving weather forecasts, Aurelio suggests that observing your surroundings like what our ancestors did.  


Cloud formations 

Aurelio states that cloud observation is a basic foundation of meteorology. “There are three types of cloud formations. High clouds, middle clouds and low clouds,” he shares. “High clouds are associated with good weather— sunny, clear and fair. It’s ideal for outdoor activities.  Middle clouds are associated with fair weather, but also with the brewing of bad weather. Low clouds are associated with bad weather—storms and rain. Cumulonimbus known as thunderstorm clouds are examples of low clouds. These low clouds are common during the rainy season.” 

He also added some folk knowledge in predicting the weather, “When you see tower-like clouds, expect rain because those will bring thunderstorms. If you see a field [of clouds] on the base of clouds, it’s possible to experience a tornado.”  




As to the popular belief that starless skies predict rain, Aurelio says that “Clouds that can cause severe thunderstorms cover the whole sky dome. “ But if a few stars are visible, then rain is still possible. 

Given the ever-changing weather systems, forecasts are never 100% accurate. But the constant monitoring of weather forecasts and a keen awareness of our surroundings may boost our safety and preparedness. After all, we cannot escape the seasonal changes of our country’s weather even during a pandemic.


Aside from the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that shook Bohol last year, who could not forget Yolanda? Let’s look back on how it affected the country and how Filipinos unite in rising from the disaster.

Not an Ordinary Typhoon

Based on the climatological records of PAGASA, tropical cyclones that enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) during the month of November have higher chance of hitting the landmass; proven to be right when Yolanda traversed the country. Since the typhoon originated from the Pacific Ocean, Yolanda has gained so much strength as it headed towards the Philippines.

Yolanda, with an international name Haiyan, did not fail in taking a spot in the world’s most disastrous typhoons. Packing winds of up to 235 kilometers per hour and gustiness reaching 270 kilometers per hour, it ruined the country particularly the region of Visayas.

Within a day, six landfall activities were recorded by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). On November 8, 2013, Yolanda hit the following areas:

– Guiuan, Eastern Samar
– Tolosa, Leyte
– Daanbantayan, Cebu
– Bantayan Island, Cebu
– Concepcion, IloIlo
– Busuanga, Palawan

The Wrath of Yolanda

Yolanda exited the PAR on November 9, 2013, leaving a horrific view of Leyte and Samar. Aside from the flash floods and landslides, the intense winds of the typhoon triggered storm surges that devoured Leyte especially the city of Tacloban. Some Taclobanons said it was like the entire sea crawled over the land.

At least 6,000 people were reported dead while more than a thousand persons are still missing. More than 3 thousand families were affected on Regions IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, X, XI and CARAGA. The combined power of water and winds smashed almost 1.2 million houses.


The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has also recorded a total of almost 90 billion pesos cost of damage from Typhoon Yolanda. By virtue of Proclamation No.682, a state of national calamity was declared on November 11, 2013.

PanahonTV Special Report | Bakas ni Yolanda Part 1

Recovery and Rehabilitation

From the Barangay Captains to the officers of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), assessment operations and immediate response were done. It was a tough responsibility as they have experienced the rage of Yolanda themselves. Dead bodies, debris, uprooted trees and displaced electrical posts blanketed the streets after the passage of the powerful typhoon.

Thirst and hunger – these were the primary concerns of the survivors that time. People were begging for food and water. It seemed that Yolanda has left nothing but misery.

But like the pouring rain, many organizations whether local or international, began to offer help and assistance for the affected families. Relief goods and other necessities came and gradually relieved the situation.

December 3 last year, the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) was assigned to monitor Yolanda Reconstruction and Rehabilitation. The fund amounting to P167 billion pesos was allocated for the four primary rehabilitation areas: infrastructure, social services, resettlement and livelihood.

Recently on October 29, 2014, the comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plan (CRRP) for the survivors of Yolanda was already approved by President Benigno Aquino III. This means a faster process of restoration through programs, plans and activities for the Yolanda-hit areas.

PanahonTV Special Report | Bakas ni Yolanda Part 2

Tacloban after a Year

Panahon TV team visited Tacloban to see how our Kababayans continue their lives after the massive destruction brought by Yolanda. We have witnessed an improvement compared to its state months after the onslaught of the typhoon.

A year after, many businesses re-operated, mass graves are more organized, trees have grown and the electricity and communication networks were re-connected. The classes resumed inside the temporary classrooms and tents donated by the international NGOs. While education is the key to a man’s success, preparedness is his key for survival. Teachers have begun integrating disaster preparedness in their curriculum.

Bunk houses and transitional shelters were also built for the affected families before they are transferred to the permanent houses. Residents regularly undergo debriefing activities and drills for natural disasters.

Aside from the structural improvement of the city, there’s more interesting in what we have observed – the optimistic attitude of the survivors. The smiles on their faces, the hope in their hearts and the undying faith in God will never be washed out by waves or carried away by strong winds. Tindog, Tacloban!

PanahonTV Special Report | Bakas ni Yolanda Part 3

Amor Larrosa is a Weather Reporter of Panahon.TV, aired daily at 5:00AM on the People’s Television (PTV). She goes by the title of Weather Lover and believes that “Ang taong handa at mahinahon, kayang lagpasan ang hamon ng panahon.” Follow her on Twitter.