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A review of climate extremes in Virac

While looking for the latest Climate Outlook issued by PAGASA during last week’s 152nd Climate Forum, I happened to come upon the weather agency’s database on climatological extremes for the Virac Synoptic Station based in San isidro Village.

According to the data, the highest temperature ever recorded at the station since 1908 remains 37.8 degrees Centigrade on Aug. 13, 2018, with the next highest occurring on June 2, 1967 at 37.2ºC.

The 51-year gap between the two highest temperatures in the capital town is either due to a statistical anomaly or a definite evidence of climate change.

On the other hand, the lowest temperature was at 15.6ºC recorded on Feb. 9, 1916. There were three other instances with temperatures lower than 18ºC and all these were recorded in 1969, 1914 and 1967.

The lowest temp for years after 2000 was on Sept. 19, 2005 when it dipped to 18.0ºC. Must really be due to climate change….

The greatest daily rainfall to ever occur in Virac was on June 9, 1974 when the skies poured a total of 494.2 millimeters of precipitation. The massive downpour was apparently brought by typhoon Dinah, which passed just 80 kilometers north of Virac at 2 PM that day.

Dinah narrowly missed Camarines Norte before slamming into Central Luzon, causing US$1 million in damage and killing 33 people, with 27 missing.

Second on the list of heavy rainfall was 488mm on Sept. 1, 1929, when a slow-moving typhoon was “severely felt” in Catanduanes and nearby Bicol provinces.

Third was the 485.5mm recorded on Oct. 29, 1958 when typhoon Lorna proved to be “very destructive” in the Bicol region, with undetermined casualties.

The two other days with greatest rainfall were on Dec. 13, 1964 with 416.3mm (brought by passing typhoon Opal/Naning with peak winds of 315kph and wind circulation of 2,100 km) and Nov. 6, 1947 with 401.1mm (typhoon Dora passed 200 kilometers north of Virac).

Interestingly, the only really rainy day in the 2000s in the list was on April 19, 2021 with 252.1mm when super typhoon Surigae/Bising moved north slowly for several days about 500km east of Catanduanes.

PAGASA data said that the lowest sea level pressure recorded by the Virac Synoptic Station was 927.9 millibars on Oct. 21, 1998, the day when typhoon Babs/Loleng made landfall in Catanduanes with gusts of 260 kph and killed 71 islanders.

The aftermath of the storm prompted then Pres. Joseph Estrada to order the National Food Authority to give one sack of rice to each Catandunganon family, an act that remains in the hearts and minds of recipients to this day.

On the strongest winds to ever hit Virac from 1966 to 2021, number one is super typhoon Nina, the Christmas howler that topped at 78 meters per second or 281 kph from the north-northwest.

The second and third strongest are both from 1970: typhoon Joan (Sening) with 277 kph on Oct. 13 and typhoon Nancy with 223 kph on Feb. 25

Sening, whose peak winds of 315 kph held the record for decades, killed a total of 798 people in its rampage across Central Philippines, with the US Navy sending a helicopter carrier to Cabugao Bay a few days later to ferry aid. Then First Lady Imelda Marcos also visited and saw the damage along the road from the Virac airport to Bato town.

Whether super typhoon Rolly (2020) was the strongest, we will never know as the Virac station’s weather vane was damaged by flying debris at the height of its passage.


THE FLORIST’S MIX-UP. A new business was opening and one of the owner’s friends wanted to send him flowers for the occasion. They arrived at the new business site and the owner read the card, which said: “Rest in Peace.” The owner was angry and called the florist to complain.

After he had told the florist of the obvious mistake and how angry he was, the florist replied: “Sir, I’m really sorry for the mistake, but rather than getting angry, you should imagine this – somewhere, there is a funeral taking place today, and they have flowers with a note saying: “Congratulations on your new location!”

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