2018 Typhoon Season
As we all know, Tropical Cyclones are vast, massive wind and circulating rain system only found in warm Tropical regions of oceans and seas. To date, this year’s Pacific Northwest Typhoon Season has already produced quite a number of Tropical Cyclone activity already, with twenty (20) named storms entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility. The most recent one is Tropical Depression 33W (Samuel).
The Philippines is no stranger to its immense power of destruction and God-given rainfall essential to agriculture and domestic use. Typhoons are destructive and deadly when they hit densely populated and exposed coastlines.
Tropical Cyclone Frequency
Typhoons have frequently passed by our island archipelago for generations and it is among the most feared and dreaded by many, with its raw energy drawn from the heat of the warm oceans and seas, unstoppable by any terms known to man. We have about nine to ten Tropical Cyclone passages on an average year, and historical data have shown that it is during the month of October where most of Tropical Cyclones are on its highest frequency.
El Niño’s Maximum
Right now, the Tropical Pacific is under El Niño Alert. It is worthy to note that in the middle part of 2018, the Pacific basin has been under the influence of a Weak ‘’El Niño’’ Phenomenon which points to ‘’below-average’’ rainfall, and much stronger Typhoons for the Central Pacific. Such weather pattern bring about global effects of intense Tropical Cyclones, and epic loss of water during drought.
As of the latest global trend, this year’s El Niño is already forecast to reach 85 percent by December, with a slow decrease in intensity through May of 2019. This also brings us to the discussion that there will be an issue of adequacy of rainfall distribution between the dry months February and March of 2019, potentially hitting the agriculture sector again without enough mitigation measures of concern sectors of society. Water for domestic, industrial and irrigation use are essential part of our daily survival. With this, it is but proper to regulate its use to maximize its potential given the scarcity of such natural resource.
El Niño has already resulted to about eight (8) Super Typhoons, of which the country did not go unscathed, with Super Typhoon Mangkhut (Ompong) making landfall over Baggao, Cagayan on September 15, 2018 bringing with it massive amounts of rainfall and screaming winds of up to 250 km/hr, wreaking havoc to thousands of people, stripping the foliage far and wide across many communities along its immediate path of destruction. It has also been attributed to the deaths of more than a hundred people in a tragic landslide in Itogon, Benguet, and the ensuing flash flood.
Every year, the impacts on agriculture, livestock, people, infrastructure and the economy is almost varying in numbers, with palay and corn production dwindling into submission as the agriculture sector tries to provide enough food supply into the domestic market. The most recent destructive Typhoon to hit Northern Luzon was Yutu (Rosita), which accounts to nearly Php1.85 bn according to the Department of Agriculture’s official report last 04 November 2018. This Typhoon alone have decimated corn and palay products already in harvesting stage when it raked through the region.
Being an archipelagic region known for having vagaries in weather, there could be drastic changes in the Philippines as the new season begins. With this, we should all be ready not just with our rain gear, but with the mindset that now is the time to be more wary of possible sudden changes in the weather. This will enable us to maximize knowledge and moving forward, building a #WeatherWiser nation we all aim to achieve.
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Written by: Adonis S. Manzan, Typhoon Specialist, WeatherPhilippines Foundation, Inc.