26 July 2013

Snow in the Philippines Hoax

The other day, somebody shared a YouTube video on my Facebook wall entitled ‘Bizarre Phenomenon: Snowfall Visits Tropical Country Philippines.’ And I was, like, yeah-yeah dream on! Some people just have too much time on their hands.

So in annoyance more than anything, I commented below the link with the first word that came to my mind: “Hoax!”

Seeing my rejoinder, the guy who shared the link asked, “If this is not snow, then what is it?” To which I replied, “My guess is that it’s BS.”

To take some of the sting out of the sarcasm, I thoughtfully added a Smiley.


The word ‘extratropical’ is the dead giveaway why snow cannot occur in the Philippines. It means ‘outside the Tropics.’
But then, on the NewsFeed, others were also sharing the same link. To see what all the fuss was all about, I looked.

Well, whoever made that video made an effort, that much I can say! The banana trees were a neat touch to give the video a feel of the tropics, all the white powdery material falling notwithstanding.

But if at all such a phenomenon is possible – and it is not except in extreme altitude, and more about this later – does anyone seriously think that it will escape the attention of the local media?

It made TV Patrol last night, as apparently the video attained a measure of virality. As of this writing, the video is just short of 800K hits. However, TV Patrol ran an item on it to put an end to the farce. ‘Fake’ was how the news show called it.

Exactly. To understand why, we all have to go back to our elementary Science lessons and how precipitation is formed.

Water vapour in the upper atmosphere condenses or is transformed from gas into liquid; then falls to the ground because of the pull of gravity.

We who live in the tropics are more familiar with precipitation in the form of rains or drizzles, which is just water falling from the atmosphere. On rare occasions when there are severe thunderstorms, we also get hail.

Those who live in colder climates also see these; but they also see precipitation in the form of snow, sleet and graupel, a soft type of hail.

Snow, the subject of the hoax, is precipitation made of tiny ice flakes. Snowfall or the process when snow precipitates tends to happen when there are extratropical low pressure systems.

The word ‘extratropical’ is the dead giveaway why snow cannot occur in the Philippines. It means ‘outside the Tropics.’

The tropics is the area of the Earth that is closest to the equator. The northern half of this area is called the Tropic of Cancer, to which the Philippines belongs; while the southern half is called the Tropic of Capricorn.

Countries along this area which are characterised by almost year-round heat and moisture as well as lush vegetation are said to enjoy a ‘tropical climate.’ In this climate, snow does not spawn except in extreme altitudes.

Those who have not seen the video, here it is:



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