Scorching heat

Rox Pena
Rox Pena

Normally, classes are suspended when there is signal No. 3 typhoon or when there are heavy rains and floods. For the first time, classes were suspended last week in my hometown Mabalacat City and neighboring Angeles City due to extreme heat. Many schools all over the country did the same. The projected heat index of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) was used as basis.

Heat index is a combination of temperature and humidity. Temperature is the heat measured by a thermometer while humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Heat index is the actual temperature that the human body feels. When it is hot, the body perspires or sweats to cool us down. However, when the humidity is very high, the body does not perspire resulting in a ‘hotter’ feeling.

The weather bureau sets 42 degrees Celsius heat index as danger level. At this temperature, heat cramps and heat exhaustion are likely to happen. For the past two weeks several areas have reached or even exceeded this temperature. Dagupan City hovered in the 40-43 degrees Celsius range and peaked at 45°C on April 5. Cotabato City and Puerto Princesa were at 41 to 44 degrees Celsius for seven days in a row. In Pampanga, the PAGASA Clark station measured the highest reading at 39°C on April 3 and 4.

Even without reading PAG-ASA’s heat index figures, the searing heat is evident. In Kapampangan, we say manyaliksik ing pali! The solar panels in the roof of my house are generating more electricity. There are hot days when the system generates power continuously as can be seen from the graph which follows a smooth upward curve. In normal days, the Sunlight intensity is not constant, so the graph fluctuates up and down.

The hot summer months were made hotter by Climate Change. For this year, they were worsened by the ongoing El-Niño phenomenon. Scientists have also observed that since 1979, global heat waves have been moving 20% more slowly. That means more people stay hot longer. Heatwaves are also happening 67% more often, according to a study in Friday's Science Advances ( The study found the highest temperatures in the heat waves are warmer than 40 years ago and the area under a heat dome is larger. From 1979 to 1983, global heat waves lasted eight days on average, but by 2016 to 2020 that was up to 12 days, the study said.

With this extreme heat, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) of the United Nations “is sounding a Red Alert worldwide”. The new annual report on the state of the global climate, published last March 19, confirms once again that 2023 was the hottest ever recorded for 174 years (the era when weather records began).

According to WMO, the Earth’s average surface temperature has risen to 1.45° Celsius above the pre-industrial levels of 1850-1900. “Never have we been so close to the 1.5° C lower limit of the Paris Agreement on climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Celeste Saulo.

This extreme heat in the Philippines might last until end of May, when the El Niño phenomenon is expected to dissipate. It will be replaced by La Niña, which means another problem for us.


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