IN A span of a week, Cebu has seen two climate extremes-–rising heat and heavy rains with lightning and thunderstorms.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration - Visayas bureau recorded a heat index of 41 degrees Celsius on Sept. 27, 2019, from the Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, measurement point. It is this extreme heat that could have caused a fishkill at a pond in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Bfar) 7 is eyeing either the rising heat or water contamination as possible causes of the dead bangus, tilapia and halwan, or mudfish, found by residents near Pond A of the South Road Properties (SRP). Until it could determine the cause of the fishkill, the fisheries office warned the public against eating fish taken from the pond.
As to how other fishing ponds, mostly in southern Cebu, have fared or are faring with the heat index breaching the 40-degree Celsius mark, the Bfar said these are managed ponds that have mitigating measures like pumps and aeration to keep the water in the ponds.
But the SRP Pond A has no such mitigating measures, yet there are residents there who see the body of water as a source of fish to place on the table or to sell.
Weather specialists have said that when the heat index reaches 40 to 41 degrees Celsius, it falls under the “extreme caution” category. This means the heat could trigger cramps and heat stress. The public is advised to hydrate regularly and avoid continuous activities outside, under direct sunlight. Stay indoors as much as possible, they said.
After the extreme heat the past days came the heavy rains with frightening thunder and lightning since Thursday, Oct. 3. These are opposites like dry and wet, hot and cold in a matter of days, an unusual mix not seen in Cebu regularly.
Flashfloods were reported in various parts of Metro Cebu because of the heavy rains, followed by outages when power supply got cut because of the water or lightning.
What is happening is a blurring of the seasons. The Philippines has wet and dry seasons. This last quarter of the year is part of the wet season but the heat and dryness make it feel like summer. It shows how the weather is unpredictable and abnormal.
The shifts are happening so fast, almost like one following the other, that there would not be enough time to prepare for the changes.
How does one prepare for abrupt weather disruptions? The potential threat to food safety, cuts in water and electric supply and not being able to go to school or work are real.
To the public, it means planning early for outages and worse traffic and checking homes for leaks and weak points. To the government, it means working double or triple time to make the community resilient to these climate changes. Officials can begin by adjusting early warning systems to make informing the public faster, given that weather extremes are now happening abruptly.