While doing rush work on a September Sunday afternoon, I had a bit of a conversation with a cousin-in-law. We were both cringing that it was hot. It should have been no surprise since that convo happened after lunch. What disturbed us, however, was that the heat managed to bite into our skins even if we were inside a house.
All of a sudden, I remembered that the “Ber” months were supposedly either rainy because of the monsoon winds (locally known as habagat) or chilly because of the northeast winds (also known as amihan).
Something felt wrong. Or was it just because I remembered that fateful day in late September 2009 – the 26thto be exact.
I was in Goethe-Institut in Makati that morning to attend my German language classes back then. Since it was still raining hard when the class ended, I decided to stay put at a coffee shop in nearby Greenbelt.
While still chilling over a hot cup of coffee amid the pouring rain, I noticed that a few shops inside the mall were beginning to close, if my memory serves me right. But one thing was clear: it was still the middle of the afternoon.
Moments later, I learn that EDSA’s underpasses were impassable to all types of vehicles, as they’ve been filled to the brim and have even overflowed.
I managed to return to my old home in Commonwealth by early evening, but not without going through an excruciating procession of vehicles along C5. Little did I know that I was lucky. My route home, which ran parallel the Marikina River, wasn’t that flooded, as against the other side, which was completely inundated. Tropical Storm Ondoy had just dumped a month’s worth of rain on the Metro in just six hours.
Fast forward to 2011. Ondoy was still fresh in everyone’s minds since it happened just a few years back. With that, TV news organizations assigned personnel dedicated to monitor the weather. I was one of them.
Part of my training was to know various weather patterns and jargons, and more importantly, how to explain them to viewers in a way that they could easily understand them.
And so, I could tell if rains are caused by the habagat, amihan, thunderstorms, or the usual tropical cyclones (disclaimer: I do not and will never claim to be a weatherman).
Except for storm-induced rains, here’s how I describe these kinds of showers from experience –
Habagat rains are usually strong and often come with strong winds. You’ll feel the raindrops hit you in the front, at your back, or on your sides. They also usually last a long time, causing all those floods you see in the news.
Thunderstorm rains are also usually strong but fall right straight on your head. In addition, they only last for a short time. Expect flooding, too, if the gushing is really strong.
Amihan rains also have winds, but the rain itself is often lighter. That happens usually between December and February of the following year.
Again, those are just my personal descriptions. Feel free to agree or disagree.
There’s another thing I noticed with reports of rains and floods in Metro Manila. Again, I don’t know if you’ll agree with me, but they are usually limited to areas north of Makati. Frankly, I don’t hear much about the Southern part of the Metro. Is it because of the topography or is it just underreported?
I’ll discuss that next time.