PAGASA eyes declaration of dry season onset by end-March

MANILA — The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is expected to declare the onset of the dry season before the end of this month.

In an interview, PAGASA weather forecaster Chris Perez said once the termination of “cold” northeast monsoon is the primary indicator of the onset of summer.

The northeast monsoon (hanging amihan) is the cold wind from Siberia that blows into the country, usually from mid-October until March.

Perez said despite the easterlies or warm winds from the east being the dominant weather system affecting the country, the northeast monsoon is expected to return on weekend or early next week affecting the extreme Northern Luzon.

He added that during summer months, the easterlies and the high-pressure area (HPA), which is the opposite of a low pressure area (LPA), will be the dominant weather systems in the country.

“As of now, we are experiencing warm weather due the presence of easterlies which also brings isolated thunderstorms. By third week of March until May of this year, we will be experiencing the dry season,” Perez told the Philippines News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

Meanwhile, Perez said that the hottest temperature so far for the month of March was recorded at 38.1 degrees Celsius in General Santos City on March 1, followed by 37.9 also in the same city on March 6, while 34.8 degrees Celsius recorded in Catbalogan, Samar on March 6, then in Metro Manila has 34.7 degrees Celsius on March 6 recorded in Science Garden and lastly, in Cebu with 32.1 degrees Celsius on March 7.

Based on the PAGASA’s climatological record, the hottest temperature in Metro Manila was recorded on May 14, 1987 at 38.5 degrees Celsius.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in the country was in Tuguegarao, Cagayan at 42.2 degrees Celsius on May 11, 1969.

Perez also said that expect the heat index to rise, which the state weather bureau defines as “what the human body perceives.”

Heat index or human discomfort index gives the “apparent” temperature or what humans perceive or feel as the temperature affecting their body. High air temperatures and high relative humidity will give high apparent temperatures or indices. Full exposure to sunshine can increase the heat index by 9 degrees Celsius.

With this, the agency advise the public to avoid heat exhaustion by staying indoors as much as possible.

He said residents of places directly affected by the heat of the sun, particularly those which do not trees and are surrounded by concrete roads would feel much hotter.

People are also advised to wear clothing made of light materials with light colors, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoid eating food high in protein, which can increase body heat.

However, he noted that light rains, especially in the afternoon or evening, are still possible due to localized thunderstorms or convections due to easterlies.

Perez said the country will be storm-free until the weekend, noting that zero to one tropical cyclone may affect the country for the month of March. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan