What is a Weather Disturbance?
Well, I looked it up and according to PAGASA, it is An area of low-pressure in which storm conditions occur. Let’s dissect that. It is an area of low-pressure which I suppose, would be the same as a low pressure area (which we are more familiar with). In this low pressure area, storms occur. There are storms in this low pressure area. Last week, weather reports have relayed that there has been a low pressure area east of Surigao. So, there really has been a low pressure area. How about a storm? PAGASA defines a tropical storm as a tropical cyclone with maximum wind speed of 62 to 88 kph. So, I guess the past week’s wind didn’t really speed up to 62 kph. But let’s take the conventional definition of “storm”. A storm is a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, lightning, or snow. Of course, in this part of the tropics, we have to cancel the “snow” part. Well, the past week definitely saw heavy rains, and there was strong winds. I suppose, if we felt those here, there were definitely heavier rains and stronger winds and probably thunder and lightning within the low pressure area itself. So, does that mean, we have been experiencing a “weather disturbance”? (Do we really have to dissect words to tell that?)
If you have been keeping up with the news, (not just about onions and senior police officers), you should know that they’re taking it really hard in Eastern Vizayas and Caraga. There has been a considerable number of casualties including deaths and damage to property due to these heavy rains. (To double down on it, the same area in Visayas experienced a really bad case of earthquake. This is the same area which experienced the worst whip of Yolanda way back.) Mind you, there was no typhoon. (Well, at least, there was no typhoon, according to the official definition of “what a typhoon is.
Does anyone remember the heavy rains of December 17 to 19 of 2022? (of course, you do. That was just last month.) Rains poured down unbelievably heavily non-stop for days that waters soon rose in the low barangays. There flowed streams where there used to be roads. There formed lakes where there used to be open spaces or vacant lots. We sent some pictures to my sister in New Zealand and in shock, she remarked that there has never been something like that in her living memory. In Karangahan, flood invaded the homes and ravaged personal articles. Residents in several communities had to be evacuated. Delivery services were suspended. (Did you honestly expect delivery riders to brave that deluge of rain just so you could have your milk tea?) Yes, that was phenomenally, shockingly, out of the ordinary. That was no typhoon. There was nor report of any storm signal. Yet, it destroyed crops, suspended business operations, evacuated residents, ruined carpets, made pools of pavements and so much more worse than many typhoons before.
Should that not be a lesson? I think that should have awakened us to the reality of the present age. I believe that meteorological moment should have pulled policy makers to the meeting rooms and drawing boards and redefine warning levels. There does not have to be a typhoon signal for real dangers to impact the citizens. Weather disasters could creep from behind and under the parameters that were marked with measurements made by men and slap us right in the face. That was a lesson which we should have learned from. But then, once it was over, we forgot all about it and failed to learn. Then, the next time that something similar to that surges the streets from the skies, we’ll go scurrying in shock like it has never happened before.
It’s like stumbling on a stone on the road. The stumbler got bruised hard and looked at the stone. Then, on the way back, he trips on that same stone again as if it was the first time he encountered that stone. Then, the next time, he walks that way, he would probably fall over that stone again. That stone is the confinement on the conventional definitions and regulations of disaster preparedness.
Let’s just set the issue of climate change for a while. Back in the days when our forefathers relied on the skies, the wind and, the earth and behavior of animals to determine the way of the elements, life was simple and more sensible. When it rains really hard, they didn’t consult their babaylan. They didn’t wait for reports whether a certain number of barangays have already been flooded. They simply decide that it’s not a good time to go out to farm or fish because it obviously is raining hard and would be dangerous and detrimental to one’s health. But in this age of scientific measurements, we place ourselves and the children in danger.
“He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’ So that everyone he has made may know his work…” -Job 37:6-7