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Here Comes the Rain…


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Low clouds seen from my place: rain surely is on the way

It is normal for the Bay Area to get a lot of rain during the winter, thanks of course from low pressure systems and the jet streams that drop in from Alaska and the far northwest, that bring in the chilly temperatures (last night’s low dropped to below freezing 28F) and lots of moisture, perfect for making the hills and mountains green in the springtime. Yet, this winter is very different: if you notice in my photos, the sun shone all throughout the region in December, with record temperatures of 60 to 70F everywhere, making it look like it’s summertime during Christmas and New Year. (Should we haul in some Aussies and New Zealanders here?)

Yes, the rain means lazier days for me because of the cool air associated with it. And I have been accustomed to it, from light drizzle to massive downpours.  In the Philippines, an average of 20 thunderstorms–many of them typhoons–strike the country annually, with some of them causing widespread damage in the rural and urban areas of the country. And typhoons generally hit the northern half of the Philippines, from Samar and Leyte, through the Bicol Region, Southern Tagalog Region, Central Luzon, and Northern Luzon. Yes, typhoons have struck Metro Manila directly before, and I have a story on one of them.

I have recalled living in Manila where my city was hit by a massive typhoon named “Rosing”, with wind gusts reaching 180mph (290km/h), and I had no school for several days because the typhoon hit the metropolis really hard. At that time, that was the strongest–and eventually the worst–typhoon I have ever experienced because of the large number of deaths from it (more than 900), plus extensive damages were observed, from massive blackouts to water outages. I even remember taking a bath at night with a candle in the toilet because there was no light at all for around 5 days, plus we ate at the dining table with only two or three candles in place. Also, I couldn’t stay out at night because I was young then, and I felt the chilly air from the storm. Fortunately, I experienced less severe thunderstorms after that, with the worst yet to come if I lived there. Further out of the city, damages in livestock and crops were widespread, causing price hikes for basic commodities, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, meat, and poultry, making it a bad time for traders to make sales because customers flock away from markets, opting instead for supermarkets.

Basically, Rosing was among the costliest typhoons the Philippines encountered in the 1990s, only to be surpassed a decade later with several more typhoons which were stronger, and thus claimed more lives and property. I have read through some lists on Wikipedia on typhoons in the Philippines, and here’s what I found out:


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Typhoon Parma (Pedring) approaching the Philippines at peak strength, 2009. (Wikipedia/NASA image)

Note: Two names are used in most typhoons that pass through the Philippines: the international name, followed by its Filipino name listed in parenthesis.

Deadliest Typhoon Ever Recorded: 
Thelma (Uring): November 1951, between 5,100 and 8,000 deaths

Deadliest Typhoons in the 21st Century, so far:
– Winnie: November 2004, 1,593 deaths
– Fengshen (Frank): June 2008, 1,410 deaths
– Durian (Reming): November 2006: 1,399 deaths
– Washi (Sendong): December 2011: 1,257 deaths (and still rising)

Most Destructive Ever Recorded:
Parma (Pepeng): October 2009, PHP 27,300,000,000 (USD 608,000,000) in damages

Most Destructive Typhoons in the 21st Century, so far:
– Parma (Pepeng)
– Nesat (Pedring): September 2011, PHP 15,000,000,000 (USD 333,000,000) in damages
– Fengshen (Frank): June 2008, PHP 13,500,000,000 (USD 301,000,000) in damages
– Ketsana (Ondoy): September 2009, PHP 11,000,000,000 (USD 244,000,000) in damages
– Megi (Juan): October 2010, PHP 8,320,000,000 (USD 193,000,000) in damages
– Muifa (Unding), Merbok (Violeta), and Winnie: November 2004, PHP 7,450,000,000 (USD 166,000,000) in damages [combined]

Basically, rain is something so many people want: it gives us cool air, moisture for our plants, and a relief from the sometimes oppressive heat of the summer. But, it is a double-edged sword: it can cause landslides, mudslides, and widespread damages to crops, livestock, and buildings if left unchecked by us and our local authorities. Worst of all, it could cost lives, our loved ones, and our friends.

0 thoughts on “Here Comes the Rain…

  1. I can’t imagine the terror of a typhoon. Being a kid and having no power for several days, and eating by candlelight could be super scary … Thanks for the personalized story about Rosing. I’m sure it makes your rain in the Bay area seem like nothing at all.

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