Sunday, February 12, 2006

Raindrops keep falling on our heads

It's the third day it's happened this month. I'm about to leave a place to go somewhere, when I notice the metallic light of an imminet thunderstorm. There's a few drops on the ground, and a few cyclists have put on their raincoats, but the worst is yet to come. Five minutes later, the heavens will open and water comes crashing down in a torrent. The first time I avoided getting soaked (a quick stop at a local Internet cafe); the third the same (instanteneous change of plans - let's have a coffee). It's the second time where I wasn't so lucky. Pitter-patter at 60 seconds, pealing rain at 120, and parking at 180.

It's definitely been an odd February for Sài Gòn, and I'm not the only one who has remarked on it. The locals seems really put out about it. The collective memory of the locals is that the rain peters out around November, and doesn't really return until May. That's backed up by climate data (courtesy ClimateZone). Torrential rain past Tết is almost unheard-of.

La Niña is probably to blame for this, according to

"The bigger picture is this: There is a developing La Niña condition in the tropical Pacific," the Pagasa-DOST weather branch chief said. According to him, La Niña’s signature is a "cooler than normal sea surface temperature in the Eastern Pacific covering the coasts of Peru and warmer than normal SST over the Western Pacific including the Philippines.

"The persistent warmer than normal sea surface temperature around the Philippines may bring more rains in many parts of the country," he said, adding the brewing La Niña condition may last up to the end of the first quarter 2006 when the see surface temperature begins to normalize.

Amid the La Niña and the puzzling climate within the region — above normal rainfall condition in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam while China, Japan and Russia are experiencing colder than normal winter — what is important is for people to be ready and prepared for possible disastrous effects of these unpredictable weather patterns, Cruz said.

Disastrous, perhaps, but I can see advantages. If the rain keeps up past March (which would be really weird) then it may cool the headstroke months of April and May. Those months are truly evil - temperatures soaring past 35 degrees, and the odd 40-pluser among them. On the other hand, it's got to be hard on the local road maintenance crews. They find it difficult to repair things when they're flooded.