Rainfall hits 10 times Cebu’s daily average

01/27/2011 - A RARE weather phenomenon caused the “extreme” rainfall that left widespread flooding in at least two cities yesterday morning, said weather specialists.


In less than two hours, they measured 35.7 millimeters (mm) of rainfall, said Alfredo Quiblat, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pag-asa) Mactan senior weather specialist.

In contrast, the normal January rainfall ranges between 100 mm and 110 mm for one month, or a daily average of only 3.2 to 3.5 mm of rainfall.


Quiblat attributed the “extreme rainfall amount” to the La Niña phenomenon or the cooling of the surface water of oceans, which disrupts global weather conditions.


Environmentalists called on local officials to make an urgent shift to climate change adaptation measures.


Oscar Tabada, Pag-asa Mactan station chief, called yesterday’s phenomenon a “cloudburst.”


“There was a concentration of clouds over Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City and Cebu City,” he said, adding that the rainwater collected in the clouds poured in less than two hours in a small area.


“In my 32 years, karon pako nakakuha ingon ana kadaghan na ulan (this is the most amount of rainfall I’ve seen),” he added.


Tabada said the floods could not have been caused by the level of seawater because at the time of the rains, which began around 8:50 a.m., it was low tide.


He said a cloud burst could pose more risk than a typhoon.


During the disastrous floods in September 2009 in Northern Luzon, when 455 millimeters of rain poured in Quezon City alone in 24 hours, a typhoon moved very slowly so there was a concentration of the volume of rain.


Tabada said the landslides and flooding in Ormoc in November 1991 were triggered by a cloudburst.


“If the rains lasted longer, let’s say for two to three hours, the effects would have been worse,” said Tabada.


Among the factors to be considered are the state of the drainage system and clogged rivers.


“We should think about what we did to the environment,” Tabada said.


Environmental lawyers said the heavy rains and flooding are “realities of the times.”


“Instead of building another coal (-fired power plant), they should channel resources to address climate change adaptation measures,” said Atty, Benjamin Cabrido.


“This will be a normal occurrence in the future and we would expect dislocation of communities. The local government units should have infrastructure plans,” he said.


Cabrido also suggested reviewing the drainage system, clearing riverbanks and controlling quarry activities.


Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, meanwhile, said, “with this unprecedented flooding, we hope more citizens will help fashion sustainable solutions to climate change.”


She said local governments should prioritize implementing a “green economy, renewable energy and serious implementation of environment laws ‘at wartime speed,’ to quote Leslie Brown, the climate economics guru.” (Sun Star)

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