Central Luzon faces hotter temperatures in 2020

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CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—Central Luzon provinces are expected to experience hotter temperatures in 2020, a government hydrologist told village leaders on Friday, citing projections by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

The mean temperature rise from December 2019 to February 2020 in Aurora, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija is projected at 0.9 degree Celsius; Bataan, Pampanga and Zambales at 1 degree; and Tarlac 1.1 degrees, said Hilton Hernando, head of the Pampanga River Basin Flood Forecasting and Warning Center, a Pagasa facility here.

These increases drive high the baseline temperature recorded between 1971 and 2000 to beyond 24.5 degrees and 25.3 degrees, he said.

The 1-degree Celsius increase is more than enough to enhance typhoons, which develop in the Pacific Ocean off Central Luzon’s eastern seaboard, Hernando said during a disaster risk reduction and management consultation organized by the Humanitarian Response Consortium, including Oxfam, here.

Hernando said this situation could impact on animals, especially those that cannot tolerate hotter temperatures.

Village leaders are increasingly taking bigger roles in disaster assessment, preparedness and response.

Barangay captain Emilio Pangan, for instance, has keen observations of the changing environment in his village of San Pedro in San Simon town.

“During the 30-day rains in 1971, water in the Pampanga River was clear and clean. Last August, during the southwest monsoon rains, in just a day of rain, the water [flowing through the Pampanga River] was brown,” said Pangan.

The setback levee that replaced the Arnedo Dike has been weakened because houses were built and plants grown along the dike, he said.

Like him, other village leaders participating in the event listed several disaster-related problems and issues, and these inputs will be integrated in the study being done by the National Water Resources Board and Japan International Cooperation Agency, said Marissa Aquino, senior economist of the National Economic and Development Authority.

Lulu Alingcastre, head of the Pampanga disaster risk reduction and management council, said the provincial government has prioritized in the council’s P73-million budget the dredging of rivers and creeks to minimize floods.

Evacuation centers for the coastal towns of San Simon, Macabebe and Masantol are being built in two National Housing Authority sites in Mexico and Magalang towns, she said.

Alingcastre said that out of 505 villages in Pampanga, 329 villages are susceptible to flooding, based on a mapping done in August. At least 205,500 families or 880,523 individuals are at risk, mostly in towns in the second and fourth congressional districts.

Alingcastre said while the hazard maps prepared by national government agencies for Pampanga are 80-percent accurate, Gov. Lilia Pineda has directed village leaders to “localize their hazard maps to effectively deal with the risks and respond well to these.”

In Baguio City, however, residents continue to enjoy nippy days as the mercury continues to drop.

Frost has started to blanket small vegetable farms on Mt. Sto. Tomas, the highest point in the city, said Danny Galati, the weather specialist manning Pagasa’s weather station there.

At 2,256 meters above see level, Mt. Sto. Tomas has been experiencing frost for the past three days because of the cold front triggered by the northeast monsoon, Galati said.

On Jan. 18, the mercury dropped to 6.9 degrees on Mt. Sto. Tomas. But temperature readings rose on Friday morning to at 9.7 degrees.

Hikers and mountain climbers would enjoy the thick fog as they hike up Sto. Tomas, which provides a panoramic view of the city and the Lingayen Gulf on a clear day, said Galati.

Tourists who are yearning to feel the city’s biting cold still have time to catch up as the mercury dipped to 10.5 degrees Celsius in Baguio on Friday, a little warmer than the 9.5 degrees recorded on Jan. 18.

Salvador Olinares, weather specialist in Baguio, warned motorists using the Halsema Highway on their way to interior Cordillera to be extra careful as heavy fog blankets roads there.

The Philippine highway system’s highest point, at 2,256.10 meters above sea level, is in the Barangay Cattubo section of Halsema Highway in Atok, Benguet.

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