Many of us associate cold with sadness, melancholy, and distance. Often times, walking the streets alone on a cold weather triggers an emotional response among people. In the Philippines, the cold typically heightens during February. This most likely leads today’s generation to expressing their sadness and channeling it to ‘hugot’ or emotive lines. For them, celebrating the month of love without a significant someone is just overkill. But has it ever occurred to you why February marks the coldest times in the Philippines?
Based on historical climate data (1900 through 2012), the months of January to February are among the coldest months in the Philippines. It is during this time when the Northeast Monsoon, locally known as Amihan is nearing its peak. It is associated with the cool, dry air blowing from the Polar region of Siberia, Mongolia, and the Northern reaches of the Chinese mainland where wintry blast of polar air is consequentially being pushed clockwise and downward by a strong anti-cyclone (High Pressure) system.
Typically, the Amihan wind cycle persists during the months of October through late March. It brings about cooler temperatures and blustery winds which prevail from the North and Eastern areas, while some occasional light drizzles or showers can also be experienced. Much to most people’s liking, Amihan also carries a generally fair weather with periods of cloudless skies. For someone who lives in the tropics and is used to humid and hot conditions, the cool and fair weather brought about by Amihan is desirable for scheduling out-of-town trips, especially in the Northern regions of Luzon.
However, despite being suitable for travelers and vacationing families, this major wind system is a bane for some, as it can spell treacherous sea conditions. It makes sea travel challenging for mariners and fisher folk, especially those living along the exposed seaboards of Luzon and Visayas regions. Furthermore, there is also the prevalence of Tropical Cyclones, since warm sea surface temperatures drawn from the Pacific Ocean breed intense thunderstorms that eventually point to the direction of the shores.
Amihan does not always entail a cozy environment for all of us. It can also be strongly influenced by a passage of an East-propagating Frontal System that emanates from the mid-latitudes. A frontal system is a weather system involving one or more fronts. It forms when a cold front overtakes a warm front. Should this be the case, its interaction with cold and warm air masses can bring out persistent rains, specifically along the Northern and Eastern sections of the country. In some unfortunate occasions, these have spawned catastrophic flood events, such as the recent incident in Cagayan de Oro.
Aside from this wind system, air temperature still varies by region due to factors such as topography, elevation, dew point, humidity, and cloud cover. Other factors also play a key role in keeping the low temperatures with the likes of dense vegetation or forest cover present in the area, or the absence of urbanization, which greatly impacts the local climate.
So the next time you walk alone, or holding the hands of another, take time not only to notice the coldness or the warmth of either situation. Assess your surroundings and analyze which of the above-mentioned factors is giving you the cool breeze. Or skip yourself the stress of analysis and just head over to the WeatherPhilippines website or download the mobile application and keep yourself updated with the latest weather readings. Be prepared for tomorrow, be #WeatherWiser today.
North Carolina State University (n.d.). State Climate Office of North Carolina website. Retrieved February 8, 2017 from http://climate.ncsu.edu
Philippine Institute of Development Studies (2005). Economic Issue of the Day, V(2). Retrieved February 8, 2017, from http://dirp4.pids.gov.ph/ris/eid/pidseid/0502.pdf
The World Bank Group (n.d.). Climate Change Knowledge Portal 2.0. Retrieved February 8, 2017 from http://sdwebx.worldbank.org/climateportal