Weather backlash: cold front, La Niña and global warming

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Monday, 31 January 2011 - Last Updated on January 31, 2011

resizeof09282006013je8At the start of 2011, weather bureau Pagasa announced that the Philippines will experience very rainy conditions during the 1st quarter of 2011 because of combined effects of the La Niña phenomenon and global warming.



Pagasa Officer-in-charge Graciano Yumul told ANC, that the country only experienced 11 storms last year. This means that the total number of storms that hit the Philippines in 2010 falls below the average of 20 to 22 storms per year. Yumul told ANC that the effects during the La Niña condition will be like some form of rebound because the country is expected to experience frequent and stronger typhoons this year.  The onslaught of typhoons is projected to occur during the height of the La Niña season from January to March 2011.

The projected backlash has already manifested itself in many parts of the Philippines particularly in the provinces along the eastern seaboard of the country.

Be ready for strong La Niña

According to GMANews.TV, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that the country is expected to experience “moderate to strong” La Niña conditions during the 1st quarter of the year and expected to intensify until April 2011.

At the start of the year, Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Pangilinan appealed to concerned sectors to be ready and vigilant for a strong La Niña. The weather phenomenon could result to significant loss of life and property.

La Niña, which is the counterpart of El Niño, is the odd cooling of the sea surface temperatures, specifically in the area of the equatorial Pacific. The term La Niña (Little Girl) was coined in order to differentiate its effects from El Niño. This weather phenomenon is pointed out as one of the reasons behind the strong rainfall experienced in Asia and Australia. The same phenomenon has also increased hurricane activity in the Atlantic area. La Niña is also associated with the extreme cold weather in North America and the drought in South America.

Casualties of nature

The Philippines has already begun to feel the effects of La Niña.  Since December 2010, the country has been subjected to unusual northeast monsoon.  Provinces such as the Bicol Region, Palawan, Eastern Visayas, and Northern Mindanao have been receiving the brunt of frequent rain showers resulting to landslides, massive floods and power outages brought about by the tail-end of a cold front.

The heavy rains in various provinces in the Philippines have led to tremendous flooding and landslides, leaving many dead and causing over a billion of damages to agriculture, infrastructure and property.  Just imagine that the heavy rainfall experienced by Legazpi, Albay alone, over just a period of one week already went beyond the 30-year monthly averages for December.

As of January 26, 2011, based on the report of, the latest death toll in the Philippines due to four weeks of sustained heavy rains triggered by the tail-end of a cold front has reached 71 while 23 people have been declared missing.

The weather bureau issued a warning last January 25, 2011 that some parts of the country is likely to experience more floods and landslides.  In line with the warning, fishermen in northern and central parts of the country have been advised not to sail out to sea to prevent more maritime accidents from happening due to strong winds and big waves.  The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) already confirmed several fishermen fatalities.

As shocking as it seems, about a third of the country’s 80 provinces, particularly those in central and southern regions, have been submerged by floodwaters.  Around 1.9 million people in the country have been affected since the rains began in late December of last year.

Green victims of frost

The extreme drop in temperature some time during December 2010 and the first week of January affected the vegetable industry of Baguio City, the summer capital of the Philippines. Frost blanketed some parts of Benguet which affected many of the vegetables that were about to be harvested. Some farmers in Benguet were forced to salvage what they could by harvesting ahead of schedule.  Other farmers were able to overcome the effects of night frost by utilizing overhead irrigation to halt formation of ice crystals on the crops.

Short and rainy summer

People who are excited about the coming summer might be very disappointed because Pagasa predicted that this year’s summer period will not only be shorter but wetter too. A wet summer may sound ironic but it is due to the La Niña phenomenon. That means the people may not be able to enjoy the beach during the whole duration of summer.

Weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said there is a strong possibility that the country may experience shorter but wetter summer because of the prevailing La Niña event affecting the Philippines.

Pagasa officer-in-charge Graciano Yumul Jr said that the month of March is likely to be rainy. The “dry” part of summer may be short-lived and limited between the months April until the first half of May only.  The rainy weather is projected to resume during the later part of the month of May.

Even the dead are not spared

Don’t be shocked if you find out that even the dead are not safe from the extreme cold temperature experienced by the country.  It’s true; the dead are also “feeling” the effects of the extreme weather. In fact, according to the report of, the centuries-old mummies inside the caves of Benguet are manifesting signs of damage due to drop in temperature.

In that same report, Municipal Tourism Action Officer Berry Sangao Jr. expressed his concern that the mummies in Mount Tibac could have greater damage because it is closest to frost-vulnerable areas.

According to Saint Louis University Museum Curator Ike Picpican, the mummies of Benguet are at risk of developing molds and mild dew. These and other environmental factors are taking its toll on the mummies which are considered as one of Benguet’s biggest tourist attractions.
On-going efforts are being done to protect the naturally preserved mummies.


Photo by Rachel Yapchiongco. Some Rights Reserved.


Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University.  She took up several units of MBA at the same university.  Rachel is a full-time mom to a charming young boy and married to an entrepreneur with a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog called Heart of Rachel.

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