Weather Extremes

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By Rox Peña

E-ssue

Thursday, January 9, 2014


IT'S only now, and not in December, that we are feeling the cold weather in the Philippines. Up in Benguet where temperatures are lower than Baguio, frost is affecting vegetable farms. When I went to Baguio a few days before Christmas, I brought a thick jacket thinking that it is extremely cold up there. But alas, I could not wear the jacket without sweating. In fact, in the morning I can afford not to wear a jacket at all. The situation in other parts of the world is worst. United States and Canada are experiencing the coldest temperatures in two decades. The extreme temperature is causing deaths, closure of businesses and schools and cancellation of thousands of flights. New York City has already declared a State of Emergency. In Canada, some areas have temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Centigrade.
The cause of the freezing temperature is the "polar vortex". According to wikipedia, it is a persistent, large-scale cyclone located near the North or South pole. Sometimes, parts of the spinning cold air breaks and extend southward hitting the United States and Canada. This is the situation now.
I wonder if this polar vortex is one of the reasons why it is colder today than in December.

--oo0oo--

EXTREMES IN WEATHER: Did you know that New York, which is now experiencing freezing temperatures, also experienced extreme heat? In July and August of 2006, extreme heat waves hit New York City, claiming the lives of 46 people and disrupting power. Mayor Bloomberg even declared a heat emergency in New York City during that time.
Chicago, one of the states in the US currently experiencing freezing temperatures, also suffered extreme heat. In July 1995, a two-week long heat wave where temperatures rose to as high as 48°C, claimed 465 lives. The hottest temperature in history in the Philippines was only 42.2°C recorded in 1969 in Tuguegarao, Cagayan.
Sobrang init at sobrang lamig sa US. Mas OK pa rin weather sa Pilipinas.

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--oo0oo--

In Australia, the land down under, 2013 was its warmest year on record. The annual temperature is 1.2 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average. This is 0.5 degrees Celsius higher than the previous warmest year on record—2005—for Australia.
In addition to being the warmest year on record, 2013 also saw the warmest summer and springs in Australia. January 7th, 2013, was the warmest day yet recorded with an average maximum of 40.3 degrees Celsius.

--oo0oo--

In the Philippines, we also experienced extreme weather conditions. Yolanda, the strongest typhoon in history to make landfall, hit the Philippines. Are all these weather extremes clear indication of climate change?

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 10, 2014.

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