A day after the heat index in Virac reached a high of over 52 degrees after days of no or little rain, the population heaved a collective sigh of relief as a low pressure area dumped welcome precipitation over the island.
“Ay salamat ta nag-uran” was the common sentiment of many, most of whom were doubly discomforted by the series of brownouts caused by line faults and inadequate power supply from diesel gensets.
As of Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, the LPA passed 280km east of the capital town, enhancing the “habagat” and bringing intermittent heavy rains.
Certainly, the people sweltering from the heat and humidity that weekend had much to be thankful for.
But, wait, the sudden change in the weather also carried another message, it now seems.
On Monday, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its latest report with a clear message: the human-caused climate crisis is worsening extreme weather around the globe.
“The world is now 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels and is on a collision course with the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees,” the report concluded.
Unless greenhouse gas emissions are slashed rapidly, the UN panel says extreme weather is going get worse.
In one significant finding, the IPCC said that rainfall over land has become more intense since the 1980s, with human influence as the main driver.
“For each Celsius degree the atmosphere warms, it can hold 7% more water vapor that could fall as rain,” the report stressed.
Heavy precipitation will become more frequent and more intense with every degree of warming, it concluded, with monsoon rains expected to be devastating in coming years, especially in South and Southeast Asia, East Asia and West Africa.
On the other hand, the report’s authors stated that the increase in tropical storm intensity in the last four decades can’t be explained by natural causes alone and scientists predict these storms will get worse as the world warms.
“Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones will become more intense, top wind speeds will increase and — because of rising sea level — coastal flooding will be more extensive,” the report warns.
With the “ber” months just three weeks away, the passing LPA is perhaps reminding the people and local government units to prepare for this year’s series of typhoons, some of which could inflict horrific damage on population centers.
This early, LGUs and their respective Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices should brush up their plans, inventory critical resources, procure and preposition relief packs, and warn barangays in disaster-prone areas.
They should likewise convey that same sense of urgency to non-government organizations still undertaking rehabilitation works and construction of core-type homes able to withstand typhoons to complete them as soon as possible.
For the government’s infrastructure agencies implementing similar repair and rehabilitation works, especially in easily-isolated barangays like the three Dugui villages in Virac, their contractors should be made to realize that any delay would expose the still-unfinished bridge and flood control projects to devastation in case a super howler comes our way.
The people of Catanduanes are indeed resilient in the face of the yearly occurrence of wild weather but nothing beats being prepared.
Those who build back better after the storm will be able to ride out the next, more powerful typhoon.