Weird weather-A A +A
Friday, August 3, 2012
CALL them weird. Freakish. Abnormal. And that seems to evolve into the norm. I’m talking of the weather to break the ice among strangers.
Who would have thought tornadoes would be transplanted from the USA to the Philippines? Last May 2012, Pinagmungajan town in western Cebu experienced a whirlwind, which was accompanied by a flurry of hail stones that battered houses and sent residents scampering for safety.
The hail stones looked like small shards of ice that one finds in a refrigerator’s freezer section, and if last Thursday’s storm lasted any longer, it would have done serious damage. Talk of breaking the ice!
Recently, a tornado ripped through Silay City and EB Magalona, slamming into three elementary schools and 158 houses in its path, and leaving one dead and one injured.
Meanwhile in Hinoba-an, a tornado demolished four out of 23 houses while Typhoon Gener damaged 131 homes in barangays Pook, Bulwangan, Bacuyangan, Culipapa, Alim, Asia and Barangay 2.
Last March, a tornado swept through parts of Bacolod City, toppling trees and destroying two sidewalk eateries, and caused a three-hour blackout. It also ripped off the roof of a warehouse and knocked down fences.
Tornadoes occur when cold air on top begins to sink, sending the rising warm wind spinning upward. The warm winds rotate faster and faster in a high column.
Another example of freak weather was Typhoon Gener. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration admitted that it did not expect winds reaching 60 kilometers per hour, typical in areas under storm signal no. 2.
“We anticipated that the southwest monsoon would bring rains and winds and issued a gale warning but what we missed was the strength of gustiness,” said Pagasa forecaster Jori Loiz. Truly, a blowhard.
He said no storm warning was raised because the wild weather lasted for just two to three hours.
“The strength of the wind was strange. We knew that there was an enhancement of the southwest monsoon but we were surprised by the wind force registered. It was typical of storms. It was 60 kph.” A tropical depression would bring 55 kph winds which grew into Tropical Storm Gener that pummeled northern Luzon.
I remember a weird movement in the 1970s called the Philippine Statehood USA, and even before that, the Federalista Party that called for the incorporation of Luzon and the Visayas as the 51st state of the United States.
Those movements should have been careful what they wished for. Now, the Visayas seems to have gotten what they’ve bargained for not in the halls of the US Congress but in the global environment.
Tornadoes are more common in the United States than in any other country. It receives 1,200 tornadoes annually—four times the amount seen in Europe. Have the Visayas joined the “Tornado Alley,” an area that includes the states of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, and Iowa?
Come to think of it, even the USA is suffering from freakish weather. Last month, more than 2.1 850,000 hectares have burned in wildfires, over 113 million Americans suffered under extreme heat advisories.
The USA is in fact a victim of extreme weather events with two-thirds of the country suffering from drought, while earlier in June, deluges flooded Minnesota and Florida.
Next time we talk of the weather, forget it as an opportunity for small talk. Or when you hear some say about blowhards, he might not be talking of arrogant and boastful person tooting his horn.
He could be sounding out alarm bells for to watch out for winds that could sweep you or your shoes off your feet that could end up in a disaster.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 03, 2012.