Dons Manzan & Jam Salazar | Feb. 11, 2018
Many of us associate cold with sadness, melancholy, and distance. Often times, walking the streets alone during 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 Cagayan de Oro deadly flood in early 2017.
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.
Here are some notable temperature values we have been able to gather since the first day of February through the 13th.
On the 3rd of February 2018, our automated weather station in Mankayan, Benguet (HEDCOR) registered 11.8C at 5AM-PhT, followed by SM Baguio City (SM) at 13.2 C by 7AM-PhT. This was followed by far the lowest temperature reading to date, which occurred at 7AM-PhT on the 05th of February 2018 in Mankayan, Benguet (HEDCOR) which reads 11.5C at an altitude of 1,320 m above sea level, see Fig. 3.
The burning question remains: How low will the temperature will ever get on Valentines’ Day? Will it break the record of last year’s 10.1C? This one will be closely monitored as the surge of the Northeast Monsoon (AMIHAN) continues coupled with the passage of Tropical Storm SANBA (BASYANG) over Northern Mindanao, Visayas and Palawan.
Care to know why the clouds form above the mountains of Benguet? And why do they hug closely along the surface? When air reaches its dew-point temperature at a particular pressure, the water vapor equalizes with liquid water, it condenses overtime at the same rate which liquid water evaporates. It is commonly known as dew point.
Dew point is the temperature at which air is saturated with water vapor, which is the gaseous state of water. According to the American Meteorological Society (AMS), when temperature is below 0C, it may be called the frost point. Frost point only occurs in higher elevations like Benguet and the rest of the Cordillera region. Too much cold can also wreak havoc to valuable crops that are being cultivate upland. That is why it is important to understand the close relationship between air pressure, amount of moisture present in the air and altitude. Witnessing the romanticizing landscape of the country’s highlands heightens expression of love with mother nature and among lovers, and even those who wanted to spend quality time with loved ones.
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.