Mercury further drops to 11.4 degrees Celsius

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BAGUIO CITY  – The mercury level in the Summer Cap[ital. further dropped to 11.4 degrees Celsius Friday morning prompting local residents and visitors to bring out their warmer clothes from their closets while some opted to buy their sweaters, coats, jackets and other warmers from ‘wag-wagan’ or ‘ukay-ukay’ stores around the city.

From 14.8 degrees Celsius as the coldest temperature on New Year’s Day, the temperature dropped to 11.4 degrees Friday morning after the recorded 11.8 degrees Celsius oldest temperature recorded Tuesday morning.

Letty Dispo, weather specialist of the local office of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said the temperature is expected to further drop to single digit anytime from the first day of the year up to the middle part of March because of the enhanced northeast monsoon that brings to northern Luzon the cold winter winds from China and Siberia.

“The sudden drop in the city’s temperature comes anytime when the northeast monsoon will be enhanced by other prevailing weather systems such as the tail end of the cold front and the entry into the country of weather disturbances,” she said.

Thousands of visitors, who were supposed to leave for the lowlands Friday morning to prepare for the start of the work on Monday, opted to stay for another day to enjoy the city’s cool and romantic weather walking around the city’s parks and streets on their usual sleeveless clothes and short pants while local residents opted to warm themselves through their thick clothes to prevent them from contracting cold day diseases that might affect their performance during the start of work next week.

The prevailing cold weather condition in the city was bolstered by cloudy to overcast skies that prevented the heat of the sun from warming the city during the day.

In highly elevated areas in the city like the Mount Sto. Tomas area and in Benguet like the towns of Atok. Kibungan and Mankayan and Mount Data in Bauko, Mountain province, the temperature was said to have dropped to around 9 degrees Celsius as per the PAGASA satellite station in Paoay, Atok, Benguet but no traces of frost incidents among vegetables were reported yet.

Benguet Gov. Nestor B. Fongwan said local farmers are now used to the expected onslaught of frost on their crops that is why they have also adjusted their planting seasons and have devised ways and means on how to clear their crops with the frost before sunlight strieks their leaves and creates burnt texture that would kill the plants.

“Our farmers were able to adjust to the situation that is why there are now lesser volume of highland vegetables which are being destroyed by frost,” Fongwan said.

When the temperature drops to single digit, frost or ice crystals usually form on top of the leaves of plants and when struck by the rays of the sun, they melt and cause the leaves of the plant to wilt and subsequently die.

Fongwan said one of the strategies adopted by farmers is to spray their plants with water during the wee hours of the morning in order to get rid of the frost and prevent their plants from being affected by the natural phenomenon.

For their part, health authorities advised people from the lowlands not to roam around the city’s streets with insufficient clothes covering their bodies because they could easily contract cold day diseases such as cough and colds, especially that their bodies have not totally adjusted to the change in weather.

Dr. Rowena Galpo, city health services officer, reported numerous visitors have sought medical assistance from the different government hospitals in the city during the prolonged Yuletide break because they started having symptoms of cold day diseases as a result of their not wearing warmer clothes for their protection.

By Dexter A. See

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