Editorial: La Niña in the horizon

THE El Niño/Southern Oscillation (Enso) Diagnostic Discussion issued by the US Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NWS and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society for 14 December 2017 raised a La Niña Advisory, saying it is likely to occur (with probability exceeding 80 percent) that it will happen through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2017-2018 (to start December 21, 2017) "with a transition to Enso-neutral most likely during the mid-to-late spring (April to May 2018).

In weather forecast lingo, advisories are given to indicate a likely chance of occurrence but on a typically less severe scale. It is somewhere in between a "watch" and a "warning" where a watch means a chance the weather condition will happen and will be covering a large area over a lengthy period. While a warning meaning the weather is already occurring or about to occur at a relatively smaller area and shorter period than what a watch covers.

"Based on the latest observations and forecast guidance, forecasters favor the peak of a weak-to-moderate La Niña during the winter," the report said.

What could this mean for us?

Since La Niña brings in rain in our part of the world, then expect flooding and landslides.

Having been forewarned and having witnessed the destruction that flashfloods and landslides bring, it is best to be always on alert.

Communities on slopes should be aware of cracks on the soil, residents in flood-prone areas must by now know how high and how fast floodwaters can rise. Since flood-prone areas do tend to get flooded, by this time, the residents should also know that it's easier to wrap important documents in garbage bags and seal these in megaboxes to ensure that these do not become soggy gunks when the flood subsides. Sealed megaboxes would most likely float up. That should reduce water damage. This can be done to clothes as well.

Then of course, the most important thing is to heed the warnings. When evacuation is called out, then if you are able-bodied, the least you can do is to evacuate right away and not wait for forced evacuation to make things easier to the disaster response teams.

Barangay councils should know where the landslide-prone areas are and monitor the ground when this gets too soggy.

While the landslide area along Diversion Road may have taken so long to rehabilitate, what is most commendable is that the warning was already raised before the landslide occurred. Thus, precautionary measures were already undertaken, including the forced evacuation of residents down the slope, who at first refused to leave. This is what disaster-preparedness is all about. It's looking at our surroundings and seeing what's unusual, what's shouldn't be.

Let us make this a way of life, whether it be in keeping an eye out for cracks on the ground, or for strangers in our midst.

In today's world, we need to look out for each other against all risks, be it natural or man-made or the bad guys.
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