The storm of the year came in earlier than expected, or so we hope.
The past few years saw a sudden increase in natural disasters, often with destructive consequences. It is no longer wise to dismiss them as simple, natural or random acts of nature. The storms we’ve experienced within this period not only ravaged the nation but showed some rather unusual properties. For instance, Ondoy’s destructive effect was attributed to the huge volume of rain that fell during its run, while last year, Pedring was known for its extremely huge diameter. Maybe it’s about time we renew our views when it comes to weather, instead of blaming the meteorologists who are always being accused of giving false information. But enough of that. So what’s so unusual about what happened yesterday? The answer might surprise you.
There’s no storm to speak of.
As such, there are no fancy names to speak of this time. The reason for the massive flooding that occurred yesterday was the south-western monsoon wind, locally termed as Habagat, the Philippines’ wind system during its wet season (which sometimes come as early as May, or as late as July).
In other words, it’s just rain. There wasn’t even any strong winds. There was a low pressure area last week, the prelude to a typhoon, but it actually dissipated. But the rain kept on falling continuously for days. There wasn’t even any break in the rainfall. I got used to going to work in the middle of rain, get out of office after 9 hours only to find out it’s still raining, then catch some sleep and wake up to the sound of rainfall, and the cycle starts all over again.
And, well, the rainwater just piled up. I noticed the steady rise of water from Tarlac River, and then, yesterday, it reached its tipping point. The flow of raging water was so strong, it destroyed a portion of the river dike.
What’s bewildering is that, unlike typhoons, which usually concentrate their damage within a small radius, the flooding caused by the rainfall is well distributed within distant points in the country. There was massive flooding in Baguio last week, one of the northernmost city in the country, as well as Davao, one of the southernmost. Now, Ilocos, Pangasinan, Metro Manila, Cebu and my hometown, Tarlac, and anywhere else is getting their fair share. Apparently, the rainfall yesterday has already beaten Ondoy’s record.
The way things are going, we can no longer ignore the drastic changes occurring in our planet. Just because we can’t control the forces of nature doesn’t mean that we cannot do something about it. The disastrous effects of the natural calamities is actually caused by a combination of natural and human factors. We must act now or else we’ll expect more of this to come.