Showing posts with label weather. Show all posts
Showing posts with label weather. Show all posts

Friday, August 19, 2016

Siyam-siyam

Have you ever wondered what the term "siyam-siyam" (roughly translating to 9 and 9 or one of its permutations) stood for? Elders often say "aabutan ka or aabutin ka ng siyam-siyam" when referring to something taking a long time to happen. "Siyam-siyam" actually refers to what is figuratively (and now often in reality) nine days straight of rainy weather. This is not your drizzle type of rains but the monsoon or Habagat type of downpours that usually translate to flooding.

We had strong rains everyday for about 2 weeks and this definitely qualified as "siyam-siyam".

My father was saying that the rains the past days fell into the category of "siyam-siyam." This is coming from a man who has had a lot of experience of heavy rains and his more than fair share of sacrifices and hardships related to weather. Tatay, after all, is a veteran of typhoons and floods and my parents' home is in a flood prone area despite a lot of improvements in the drainage in the past decades. We used to live in a house in an area that's become flood prone since Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009. Nowadays, those floods and many sleepless nights during heavy rains are now memories, some of which we recall with humor. We are thankful for the blessings of our home and that it keeps us safe during rainy days, especially during times of "siyam-siyam."
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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Rainy days are here again

It's been raining everyday for about two weeks now. The past few days were really bad with heavy rains, torrential at some times, everywhere. The downpours have caused floods in many places and while flash floods along major roads have usually caused traffic congestion, the floods in large areas especially residential lands are the most undesirable kind. Obviously, the continuous rains made it cooler (masarap matulog) but that comfort can only be enjoyed if you have a roof on top of you and if the water isn't rising from under you.

This is what very low to zero visibility looks like. Heavy rains over the mountains of Antipolo obscuring homes from view.
Driving under very low visibility conditions is quite dangerous. Roads are slippery or flooded. Mountain roads can be foggy. And
I still take a look at the Marikina River's water level everytime I pass the bridge along Marcos Highway. I have learned to correlate what I observed with my experiences of floods in Cainta and Antipolo, and this is from almost 3 decades that I am writing about. And so I can tell whether it is already flooded in areas I am familiar with and how deep they are relative to each place.

This is the first wet season that we don't have to worry about our old home since we sold that house last summer. Based on the rains the last few days and especially from yesterday to today I'm quite sure the streets in the previous subdivision we resided in are flooded. I just hope the floods won't enter homes. Of course, we disclosed to potential buyers including the eventual one that extreme rains can lead to flooding there and we told them about the Ondoy experience as well as the "Habagat" one in 2012. Last year was a good year as they only experienced floods on the streets. We hope it will be the same this year and perhaps there will be improvements in the future.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Of foggy mornings and a warm December

The late and last typhoon this year to affect Metro Manila and our area in Antipolo brought in much needed rains before Christmas. The rainy days were also a welcome respite from the uncharacteristically warm December that we have had. It is the second to the last day of December today and I can conclude that this is the warmest December we have had in memory. That, of course, refers to all my 43 years of Decembers. It is climate change affecting us and whoever it is who deny this deserves more than a slap in the face to open his/her eyes to the truth.

Nevertheless, the typhoon brought us some very cool mornings and nights and some heavy fog (definitely not smog) over a few days. Here are a couple of photos taken from the back of our home (not) showing the mountains enveloped in fog. A third photo shows the conditions along Sumulong Highway where the visibility is limited by the fog.

This is to the east and you cannot see the top of the mountain as well as the many houses there. Note the roof at the corner of the photo as this will be a reference in the next picture.
This is an even thicker fog with the foliage in the background obscured. That house there is the same one with the roof in the first photo.



Rain and fog limit visibility along Sumulong Highway. This is during the day a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure it was tougher for travelers once it was nighttime and I hope people were more careful driving then.

We don't expect any typhoons this January. It is even rarer to have extreme weather this time of the year. But then that 'extreme' should not refer only to rains and winds but instead also refer to warm temperatures like the ones we experience the past days including last Christmas Day. I do hope that January and February will be cooler even if its just the night times and mornings. It just doesn't feel right to have warm weather this time of the year.


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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pleasant ironies

We found it quite ironic that we had to postpone a vacation we had planned and made reservations for many months ago because of an approaching typhoon only to find out that the weather was actually quite okay in our destination. Of course, much information about the actual track and strength of the typhoon was unknown (given the uncertainties associated with typhoons) and so we just couldn't take the risk of being stranded in Cebu while a typhoon pounded Greater Manila and our home. We are quite glad though that the fair weather has allowed us to enjoy morning jog, a good lunch out and an evening walk with our dog. It helped, too, that we had a cool breeze blowing and a nice moon to brighten up our path around our mountain home.

The Clairvoyant with our 8-month old golden retriever
The wind is starting to increase in strength as I write this post. Perhaps its due to the approaching typhoon? Very likely though we expect even stronger winds and rains by early morning or perhaps noontime tomorrow when the typhoon is expected to be traversing along the Bicol Region (at least according to one possible track). It could definitely affect our return flight and we didn't want to be stranded where we were vacationing and with us worrying about home and relatives worrying about our whereabouts.
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Friday, December 5, 2014

No PAGASA? No problem!

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) website has been down the past two days at a time people are anxious on information about a typhoon affecting the country with potentially catastrophic outcomes. The Philippines' weather bureau has put up an alternative site to provide information on the approaching typhoon. Ruby (International name: Hagupit) had developed into a super typhoon yesterday and its Category 5 attributes reminded people about how destructive such forces of nature can be barely more than a year after Yolanda (Haiyan) lay waste several provinces. It seemed that the international name of the typhoon itself was apt for its potential. "Hagupit" is Pilipino for "to lash," and it would seem to be something like a scourge of God if the typhoon were to make landfall like Haiyan last year.

I have not been too dependent on the PAGASA site despite all the information it provides including real time information on the water levels of major rivers in Metro Manila. I take exception of DOST's NOAH project, which to me is technically not PAGASA and very useful for their Doppler data and visualization. Two websites that I highly recommend to people for information on the weather are the following:
For those interested in modeling and the forecasting of typhoons from their formative stages the website by the National Oceanic an Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the US is a very interesting site.

Following are sample visuals from the three sites I mentioned, which can be good references for the weather. I highly recommend Wunderground, which also has an app for your smartphone, for daily or even hourly weather information.

JTWC's latest information on Hagupit
Wunderground's latest 5-day forecast for Hagupit

NOAA storm tracks showing current and potential weather systems in the Western Pacific
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Typhoon acid test

As I write this short post, there is a typhoon approaching Metro Manila and Rizal. This will be our first typhoon since we moved to our new home in Antipolo. One of our criteria when we chose the location of our home was that it should be flood-free, meaning the area has no experience of flooding. We have experienced and survived some severe flood events including the record floods of Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009 and the freakish Habagat (monsoon) floods of 2012. Last year, as our new home was under construction, we experienced two more floods but with us already looking forward to moving out of our old home. Fortunately for us but unfortunate to so many that we were spared from Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last year.

And so, we will finally have what many would term as an acid test with Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun). This is the first significant typhoon of the 2014 season and the first of several that we expect to affect our area this year given the average number of typhoons passing through the Philippines in a year. While I am not worried about floods anymore, it is the winds that has me concerned. Strong winds are always dangerous as it can bring damage in a number of ways. I have no doubt about the sturdiness of our home but then there might be debris flying from anywhere that could bring about the damage. Hopefully, there would be no significant stuff carried by the winds that we expect to batter our area by early morning tomorrow.

Whatever the case may be, I implore on everyone living in the areas along the path of the typhoon to be ready, be prepared for what may or may not happen. You cannot say you're prepared until the rains pour in and the winds start howling. You can only confirm your preparedness once the typhoon passes and you make your assessment of what had actually happened. I think this is one case where it is always safe to expect the worst rather than be complacent.

Keep safe!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Super typhoon Yolanda

Lives will be at a standstill for many parts of the Philippines when super typhoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan) finally makes its presence felt as it takes a path through the central Philippines from tonight until Saturday. The typhoon is already a Category 5 and packing winds above 250 kph. It will be a destructive system as it plows through areas already saturated by rains from a storm that preceded it just a few days ago.  The image below is from Google Earth, showing the approaching typhoon as of early morning of November 7 (Philippine time).

Google Earth screen shot showing Typhoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan) bearing down on the Philippines

Transport will surely be affected by this powerful typhoon with airlines already expected to cancel or postpone flights. Sea craft were also already advised against travel given the waves and storm surges expected from the typhoon. Landslides are also expected in mountainous areas where roads will probably be blocked by debris. Trees, poles and others are also expected to be strewn across many roads, limiting access to communities. As such, our disaster councils are on high alert to respond to the challenges that will be brought about by the typhoon's onslaught.

People in the provinces of Bohol and Cebu that bore the brunt of the recent magnitude 7.2 earthquake are still reeling from the damages from the quake. Many are still living in tents after their homes were destroyed or damaged by the quake and its aftershocks. We can only assume and trust that our national agencies, disaster councils and local governments are prepared to provide immediate relief to those who will be affected by the typhoon.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Aftermath of Maring and Habagat

We are thankful that we were spared of the worst. Compared to the floods in Cavite, Bulacan and Pampanga (at least based on what I have read or seen on TV) they had much difficult situations there. In the case of Cavite, many towns are now still underwater and the experience there seems quite new to many based on the interviews on TV and radio. Many in Kawit, Bacoor and Noveleta have put the blame on a major tollway project as well as residential and industrial subdivision developments in the province. While politicians, the DPWH and others have tried to explain that Cavitex and subdivision developments are not to blame and that the engineering designs were sound, it is uncertain whether these designs were really sound in the first place and if they were, if these were implemented the right way. Based on experience, developers have been generally irresponsible with drainage and the floods in Marikina, Cainta, Pasig and Taytay are a testament to this fault. With the availability of information today including old maps of these areas, we now know that much of what are now residential subdivisions were rice fields with natural waterways like creeks and streams, and ponds. Most of these have been covered and replaced by ill-designed drainage systems resulting in excessive runoffs that now cause the floods.

Flooded residential street with few cars of residents brave enough not to take their vehicles to higher ground
Some homes have had their ground floors and garages elevated to cope with floods. This is often the case in areas where location is actually good and conditions are better through most of the year. I think this is part of what you call climate adaptation.
In the more urbanized areas like Manila, Pasay and Quezon City, drainage systems are quite antiquated and obviously can not handle the amount of rainfall that we get these days. In fact, even with new culverts installed in many parts of Manila, these areas are still flooded though residents say that at least the levels can be lower than before and flood waters recede faster than before. To me, this still is not enough and the DPWH should re-assess and revise their design standards to address the intense rainfalls that have now become regular. I think that in these cases, over-designing drainage systems will pay off not just in the long run but in the immediate term. Perhaps the much maligned pork barrel funds should be funneled into these drainage and flood control projects considering these are very immediate concerns for a lot of people. It wouldn't take overnight to solve these flooding problems but we need to get a head start and be transparent with the way we implement such projects. A lot of lives are dependent on the success of such projects and this is clear from the images that we get on the news reports about the aftermath and impacts of the storm intensified monsoon rains the past few days.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Baha uli! Here we go again!

I think I may have spoken too soon yesterday when I wrote that we were lucky for now. It seems the "now" applied to yesterday and not for the entirety of this rain event. The tropical storm up north and near Taiwan is practically stationary and all forecasts state that it will be moving only by tomorrow afternoon or evening. Maring (International: Trami) has been there since the weekend and has intensified monsoon rains. Its impacts have caused devastation over a large area of the country, particularly in the island of Luzon. Hard hit is Mega Manila and our residence has not been spared by the intense rains the past few days. Below is a satellite photo from the Weather Underground showing the tropical storm and the rains (clouds) it has attracted.


As yesterday's floods subsided, we thought we could finally breathe more easily. But then this morning it was not to be as heavy rains poured almost everywhere, and causing much misery to all. We can now only pray that the rains will finally let up and for the floods to subside quickly. We only have our faith to keep ourselves together in this difficult time.
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Lucky for now

I had difficulty sleeping last night due to the intermittent heavy rains that caused flooding all around Mega Manila including where we live. However, unlike last year's floods brought about by monsoon rains, we were lucky this time that the flood waters only reached our home's garage gate instead of entering our home. Last year during a similar Habagat event, it was knee deep inside our house but that was much better than when we were inundated by Ondoy (Ketsana) when it was neck-deep in our house!

Of course, this will not be the last of the heavy rains expected for Metro Manila and its surrounding areas for this year. We are only in the third week of August and the local weather bureau has stated its forecasts of a number of typhoons to be expected during this wet season. Typically, that is a period that lasts until November with the occasional typhoon or two in December. And so we would have to brace ourselves and pray that the next events would not be as bad as this current one. Hopefully, too, this sends another strong message to whoever is in charge and responsible to hurry up with whatever flood mitigation projects need to be done to improve the lives of a lot of people regularly affected by floods.
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Have a safe night...

I was planning to post something on the National Art Gallery of the National Museum of the Philippines tonight. Unfortunately, I was unable to sort through so many photos I took of works by Juan Luna, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Jose Rizal, Fernando Amorsolo, Vicente Manansala, Guillermo Tolentino, and other prominent national artists. I will do my sorting in the next few days but hopefully in a more relaxed state. I say relaxed because it has been raining hard in Metro Manila the past 2 days and the weather bureau has just issued a "red" warning indicating heavy rains in the next few hours and the possibility of severe flooding in low-lying areas.

We have taken precautions for the eventuality of a flood but are hopeful it won't be of the scale of last year's Habagat (monsoon) or, huwag naman sana, 2009's Ondoy. I am sure that a lot of people won't be able to get a good sleep tonight and vigilance is really key if we are to reduce the impacts of such rains (i.e., floods and the damage to lives and properties they cause). Already, there are many reports of flooding all around Metro Manila and this because of inclement weather due to the monsoon being intensified by a tropical depression near Taiwan, north of the Philippines.

We can only pray that things will go well and that the rains will pause.  Given the uncertainties associated with weather systems, let's just hope that the weather will improve tomorrow and we can finally breathe a sigh of relief soon.

Have a safe night to all!
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Rained out in San Antonio, Zambales

We were at San Antonio, Zambales last May 11-12, 2012 for our office's annual planning workshop. After our sessions on Friday, we checked into our rooms to rest before getting in some swimming or wading time at the beach in the late afternoon. We weren't so lucky as there was a thunderstorm in the afternoon and it rained until sunset. To while away the time, we ended up exchanging stories and jokes under a makeshift cabana in front of our cottage. Some of us had a few drinks and snacks while also exerting quite an effort to avoid the water leaking from the thatch roof above our heads.

During the rains, there was very low visibility for the surrounding areas
We couldn't even see the mountains including Mt. Pundaquit (642m) shown here after the rains.
The following photos are a bit more dramatic as they showed the sea and the islands of Camara and Capones in the horizon as the weather changed.

Photo taken while the storm cloud were above us and pouring rain at the beach
The rain clouds passed us and headed towards Camara and Capones Islands
The weather eventually cleared just before sunset
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Information dissemination in times of flooding

I admire the current Marikina City administration for being on top of the situation with regards to their constituents. Part of this is their transparency in providing scientific information on rainfall and the levels of the Marikina River. Such information are good references especially since one can easily compare the situation in Marikina with those of adjoining areas given that the streams and other waterways connect to the Marikina and Pasig Rivers. Below are links to the information derived from the DOST and Marikina's very own local monitoring system.

River level:
http://syncsysph.com/councilmarikinagovph/data/riverlevel.html

Rainfall:
http://syncsysph.com/councilmarikinagovph/data/rainfall.html

One can easily navigate the site for other pertinent information.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Near miss

Lost in the past days' heavy rains and the resulting floods that threatened to enter our home last Friday night was the close call I had last Thursday night as I returned from Korea. I had just attended the 9th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS) held in Jeju, Korea. From Jeju, I took the Air Busan domestic flight that was codeshared with Asiana Airlines to Busan, where I was to connect to Asiana Airlines flight OZ 705.

I had a long layover at Busan and asked for information about the city and what I could do for the 7 hours available to me prior to my flight back to Manila. I had already checked-in my baggage so I was practically unencumbered to move about. Unfortunately, the transit system from the airport to downtown Busan was not operational (surprise!) and I decided that the trip downtown where I would just probably walk around a mall was not worth it. I thought I would just end up spending on unnecessary shopping or dining.

As I entered the departure area after the routine immigration process, I proceeded for some Duty Free shopping for pasalubong. Afterwards, I took advantage of the free internet services at the airport, replying to emails received that day. There was no free WiFi at the airport so I had to make do with the terminals made available to departing passengers near the airline lounges. Afterwards, I proceeded to the gate assigned to our flight. This was about 4 hours prior to the tentative boarding time indicated on the electronic signboard near the gate.

As I had quite some time before my flight, I tried to catch up on the latest issue of Wired magazine that I had brought along specifically for the long lay-over. It was while I was reading that I noted an announcement for an Asiana flight to another Southeast Asian city being delayed due to technical problems with the their aircraft. I also noticed upon looking around outside the terminal that quite a few planes were sitting out from the terminal where passengers were brought to the aircraft by bus. I had experienced this before when our aircraft arrived in Jeju the Monday before, and at NAIA Terminal 2 in past domestic and international flights that couldn't be accommodated at the terminal due to congestion. It was then that I noticed the Asiana Airlines Airbus A320 sitting across the terminal, and it looked like it was being serviced based on the vehicles parked beside it and the activity I could see from where I sat. I assumed that this was the aircraft that was supposed to be used by the delayed flight announced on the airport PA system.

A few minutes later, however, the airport PA announced that the delayed flight was now boarding. A while later, I saw an Asiana aircraft taking off, about 45 minutes delayed from its original flight departure time. The other aircraft still sat where it was, and still apparently being serviced. I noticed later that there were no other Asiana aircraft arriving or departing prior to our flight though there were many Korean Air, Air Busan and Jeju Air planes arriving and taking off. I also saw that a PAL flight left for Manila ahead of us and a Cebu Pacific flight left for Cebu one hour before ours. That was when I suspected that the plane sitting from across the terminal would be our aircraft for the trip to Manila.

Upon boarding the aircraft, we already noticed that the airconditioning was off along with the plane's engine. This was already unusual for me considering a plane that was supposed to take off within the next 20 minutes normally had its engines running already. The Koreans on that same flight apparently were not pleased with the conditions as the cabin became warmer as more passengers settled in their seats for the flight to Manila. Not a few were already voicing their displeasure and were doing so in a way we usually see on TV. It seemed to me that they were already berating the crew. When the pilot started the plane's engines, the cabin suddenly became dark and a weird sound was heard from outside the plane. Minutes later, the pilot announced that the plane was having problems with its electrical system and we had to wait out for it to be repaired. What followed were more complaints and possible offensive words from the Korean passengers who didn't like the idea of being delayed. We were, after all, originally scheduled to arrive in Manila at 12:00 midnight. Any delay meant we were arriving early morning of Friday.

Abotu 30 minutes later, the pilot again attempted to start the plane and for the second time, the electrical system failed. This resulted in what I thought were insults and other offensive words from the Korean passengers. I could see that the flight attendants were already quite embarrassed and they could do nothing but try to assuage passengers on the situation. I was already thinking about whether we will be asked to deplane and wait our for our plane to be fixed or another aircraft to take its place. No such announcement was made and we had to wait it out for another 20 minutes. I thought that it was good though that there were cooler heads among the Korean passengers who were able to calm down others who were already threatening the pilot and the crew due to the displeasure about the situation.

The third time around, the plane finally responded and we were able to taxi and take-off without any hitch. The pilot continued to apologize even after take-off and assured everyone that the electrical system was repaired. Nevertheless, I could not sleep in the plane no matter how hard I tried to as each shake and rumble due to turbulence made me think about the possibility that the plane's electrical system will fail, resulting in a crash. It was no light matter considering that we were traveling 3.25 hours between Busan and Manila, and we will be flying between two typhoons including one whose path was to cross ours. Such assured us of much turbulence throughout the flight including a couple that made me quite nervous as I could not even see the plane's wings from my window seat due to the thick clouds around us. The only thing I could do was to pray silently that we don't have a breakdown in midflight.

I was only able to relax when we finally landed in Manila. In fairness to the pilot, it was one of the smoothest landings I ever experienced even despite my being too conscious of the turbulence throughout the flight. Yet, my worries were renewed when the the cabin blacked out momentarily after we stopped at NAIA Terminal 1. I could not help but think about what could have happened if this occurred earlier while we were still in the air. Moments later, my suspicion was confirmed by an airport supervisor who was going around the conveyor belt telling Filipino passengers that our bags will be delayed due to the difficulties experienced by ground staff in opening our plane's baggage compartment. I could not help but feel relieved that I "survived" that flight. Perhaps it was my prayers? My faith? No matter. I am truly thankful and grateful to the One Who watches over us and did so formally while in Church this morning to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ondoy all over again?

It's Saturday early morning and I'm wide awake. The simple reason for this is supposedly another storm watch. The storm, however, is already creeping past Batanes with such a slow pace that it's bringing a lot of rainfall to Luzon and especially the NCR. There's a flood just outside the door of our home and so far, the water seemed to stop rising. I'm informed that its much worse elsewhere so I won't complain much of this experience, only that much could have been done to avert such flooding.

The news have been reporting that Metro Manila's drainage system is more than 35 years old (probably much older) and clearly does not have the capacity for today's rains. Combine this with the fact that we seemed not to have learned our lessons in as far as garbage is concerned. Evidence of this is that most footage shown on TV and my observations when crossing the bridge across Marikina River earlier this afternoon show a lot of garbage floating along the rivers, streams and flooded streets.

Well at least now, there's a ton of info including more from PAGASA. In fact, their info on the status of dams and the flood monitor for major water systems in the NCR have been quite helpful. I don't even remember these being available back in 2009. [Click here for the status of monitored dams in Luzon Island.] Yet, much is desired about rainfall information. Friends have been posting questions about whatever happened to the much vaunted Doppler radars the government acquired to supposedly inform the public about rainfall intensity. Such info could help at least warn people of impending doom especially after such info was not available back in Sept 2009.

It looks like I won't be sleeping much tonight and it is already early morning. It's quite tough knowing the waters could enter the house anytime and especially if it rains hard again tonight. A lot of people prayed or are praying right now that the rains would stop and that the floods will recede soon and hopefully, quickly. I'm just glad the Clairvoyant is in Singapura and won't have to experience this. I am also hopeful that this won't turn out to be a sequel to Ondoy.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

From dry to wet

The Philippine summer, or more appropriately the dry season, ended with the arrival of a super typhoon in the Philippine area of responsibility last week. Luzon was fortunate to have been spared by the typhoon when its trajectory brought it instead along a path that headed to Okinawa and the Japanese mainlands. Fortunately, too, the typhoon weakened into a tropical depression before it hit Japan and also spared that country from more misery from another of nature's reminders of how powerful it truly is.

For me, the signs of the transition from the dry season to the wet season was already evident in the days prior to the conception of typhoon Chedeng (international codename: Songda). It was already raining in parts of Metro Manila in the afternoons, usually stronger in the area near the La Mesa watershed including Novaliches and the Rizal towns of San Mateo and Rodriguez (Montalban). From the clouds visible from the Blue Ridge section of C5, I could also guess that there were probably rains in the eastern parts of Antipolo and probably the towns of Tanay and Teresa on the other side of the Sierra Madre mountains.

I personally experienced the rains in unceremonious terms one Sunday afternoon as I drove from my in-laws home in Novaliches to my parents' home in Cainta. It was zero visibility all throughout my drive along Commonwealth Avenue and I had to turn on all my lights including my blinkers (hazard lights) like all the other vehicles in traffic that afternoon. The downpour was so much and over a wide area that I believe I passed through at least 9 flooded sections of road including portions of Commonwealth Avenue, Katipunan Avenue Marcos Highway and Imelda Avenue. Most of these were familiar sections as they were the most likely to have floods especially the flash floods brought about by the heavy rains that afternoon. For Marcos Highway, I was a bit surprised because the waters were quite deep but I understood the situation given the unfinished road and drainage works along that highway. To be fair, the work was continuous, it was just that the rainfall was so intense. I just hope that when the project is completed, it would be able to handle such downpours.

So I guess it's farewell to summer now, at least what we in the Philippines term as summer. For now, I should look forward to when the dry season will begin again. That is probably in the period that coincides with autumn in temperate countries of the northern hemisphere. There is the prospect of traveling with the Clairvoyant to the Bay Area and perhaps explore and experience places we have been planning to see for some time now.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stormwatch in early May

I didn't get to sleep much last night. It wasn't really because the Clairvoyant happened to be in Singapore nor was it due to our two dogs insisting to give me company. It was mainly out of being so aware and so conscious about the heavy rains that started pouring shortly after the conclusion of the television broadcast of Manny Pacquiao's boxing match against an overwhelmed Shane Mosley. I guess it is already part of me that I go into something like a vigil mode when I sense something extreme about the weather. I have experienced too many typhoons and had waded into too many floods in my lifetime that I know just how strong certain rains are based on sound alone.

It was quite alarming for me already when, during the drive from Novaliches to Cainta, the rains started pouring and there was practically zero visibility for the entire stretch of Commonwealth Avenue. I estimated that I encountered 5 flooded sections of that highway and had to be thankful of the buses who literally parted waters so that lighter vehicles could move forward in their wakes. Entering the UP campus was a blessing since the drainage system is usually excellent and flash floods are rare because of the elevation. Katipunan, however, offered 2 flooded sections but these were easily traversed as one only had to keep to the lanes closest to the median where the water was negligible. I was in for a surprise though when after traveling along Marcos Highway quite unhindered, I encountered a flood just before reaching Dela Paz in front of a small hospital where both the DPWH and Manila Water were conducting works intended for drainage and water supply, respectively. It was deep enough and many of us motorists braved the waters, one after the other, and mindful of the water lapping the underside of our vehicles and likely to enter our tailpipes. From thereon, I only had to deal with one more flash flood along Imelda Avenue right after Vista Verde and in front of a Phoenix gas station. That's a total of 9 floods I had to go through yesterday, and silently I prayed that my vehicle won't stall and that the rains would cease.

I didn't expect the rains to be that strong and I must admit that I let my guard off a little as I dismissed a tropical depression as not at all alarming at this time of year. After all, it is still early May and only last week we had experienced scorching weather with temperatures reaching highs of 35 and 36 degrees Celsius in Metro Manila. It was supposed to be the dry season and summer in most parts of the country. This, however, seems to be a false assumption now that we got drenched yesterday and are expected to be drenched again today. Our climate now seems so delicate and or weather systems seem to become more unpredictable.

With state of the art equipment claimed to have been acquired by the DOST-PAGASA much was and is expected for the local weather agency to at least provide guided estimates of rainfall. A simple comparison will suffice in making people aware of how much rain is expected. Our knowledge for example that Typhoon Ketsana/Ondoy poured something like 58mm per hour of rain makes for an excellent benchmark for what people can easily visualize as what could happen if given a figure to compare with such reference. It is simple, straightforward science that if applied properly would save us some sleepless nights.