02 April 2017

Fluky April Cold Weather and Winds Equivalent to PSWS Signal Number One

The brisk NE monsoon winds are clearly reflected in this graphic.  Click here to view the animation.

In late March, over TV Patrol, the weather segment reported several times that PAGASA, the Philippine weather bureau, had been waiting to declare the official start to the hot and dry summer season. Each time, the declaration would be delayed by the resurgence of the northeast monsoon.

Last week, Bernadette Sombrano, pitching in for Kim Atienza for the weather segment, told TV Patrol viewers to expect a resurgence of the northeast monsoon over the weekend, thus further delaying the onset of summer. This time, PAGASA got things right.

There were signs that the monsoon was re-intensifying as early as Saturday, when there were even light showers. But yesterday afternoon, Sunday, the winds really started blowing briskly, the sort one normally associates with late January and February.

In fact, PAGASA’s gale warning for Sunday was 52-63 kilometers per hour. In the present typhoon warning scale of the agency, this is already equivalent to Public Storm Warning Signal Number One (30-60 kph). This year, the last time the monsoons were this brisk was mid-February. One will struggle to recall the last time the monsoon winds were this strong in April.

Meanwhile in the evening yesterday, the temperature started to drop to 26ºC indoors. Weather services were reporting as low as 22º or 23º, but I rather trust my old school mercury room thermometer at home. Besides, my body would have known; and I still had my shirt off. It was pleasant, but not cold. My thermometer’s reading was probably about right. Early this morning, the reading was 25ºC.

Still, 26ºC in the early evening on April the 2nd is fluky in itself. In the old days, there used to be a saying among the elderly that one should expect the start of hot and humid summer days upon the onset of the Lenten season. That is definitely just not applicable this year.

Fluky as the weather is, it is certainly not unknown. I specifically remember the year 1995 because of the unusually protracted cold season which began as early as October the previous year and went on till April. Regrettably, that unusually long cold season has not happened in the two decades or so since.

In fact, two or three years ago, temperatures were hitting record highs in April even here in Lipa City, a thousand feet or so above sea levels. That was an unusually hot summer when the heat index was regularly hitting the 40ºC mark. That is almost Middle Eastern already and certainly worse than having a fever.

In contrast, therefore, this very pleasant if fluky early April weather that we are all experiencing is indeed very welcome. While the northeast monsoon generally retreats in May or June, to be replaced by the southwest monsoon winds, April is as a rule of thumb characterized by easterly winds that sweep into the Philippines from the Pacific Ocean. These are the winds that send the thermometer up to create what we in the country traditionally refer to as summer.

Of course, because it is April we also all know that this good fortune we are presently enjoying cannot last for very long. Watch your curtains and when those of the opposing set of windows begin to sway, then that is your clearest sign that the monsoons are beginning to change.

When your western curtains are being consistently blown, then you know for a fact that the southwest monsoon has arrived and with it, the occasional destructive winds of storms and typhoons that we who live in this country are only just too familiar with.

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