The weather for dummies
By Lorenzo P. Niñal

We are also too dumb to realize that “rain” is water falling from the sky while “precipitation” is the same water falling from the sky. (OK, snow is precipitation, as hail or sleet is. But unless you’re sleeping with a real snowman, be happy with rain. It’s shorter.)  

IF you know what Intertropical Convergence Zone is, skip this column because you are either Pagasa or that man in a Crocodile Dundee getup who gives us the weather and some info on how iguanas copulate. Meaning, you’re the only person who understands what the hell he’s talking about.

This weather report for example: “Tail-end of a cold front affects Eastern and Southern Luzon and the whole of Visayas, while moderate to strong northeasterly surface windflow prevails over Luzon and Visayas.” The time required to figure that out is proportionate to the dedication required to understand the Trinitarian Doctrine. It is that profound.

It’s not Pagasa’s fault. There are not enough words to cover all weather phenomena so it had to improvise to confuse us even more. Pagasa does this by pairing two existing words to come up with perplexities like “rainshower.” It’s our fault for being too dumb to understand that when it rains, it showers.

We are also too dumb to realize that “rain” is water falling from the sky while “precipitation” is the same water falling from the sky. (OK, snow is precipitation, as hail or sleet is. But unless you’re sleeping with a real snowman, be happy with rain. It’s shorter.)  

I find this surprising, because Pagasa actually has an idiot’s guide to understanding the weather. It has, for example, classified rain into 13 different kinds and described each one of them. “Very light rains” are “scattered drops that do not completely wet an exposed surface” while “heavy rains” are those that “may cause roaring on roofs”. I told you it’s an idiot’s guide, The Weather for Dummies.  

Here’s Pagasa’s list of winds that threaten our tarpaulins. If you think I’m making this up, you can visit pagasa.dost.gov.ph. It’s the website with a collage illustration of what looks like Noah’s Ark waiting for the Great Flood on its home page.
 
Light wind (19 kph or less). It’s the wind that is “felt on face.” To demonstrate: set your stand fan to 1, move back three steps. The wind that you feel on your face is light wind. Or look outside. If the “leaves rustle,” there’s light wind blowing.

Moderate wind (20-29 kph). It’s the wind that “raises dust and loose paper.” Or it’s the wind that blows away the receipt when you’re dining alfresco. When you’re too broke to dine outside, observe the trees. There’s moderate wind when “small branches begin to sway.”

Moderate to occasionally strong. Pagasa assigns no kph here because “moderate wind mostly persists but there are instances during the forecast period that it reaches strong wind force.” If you’re a woman wearing a sundress, you need to match it with sexy lingerie because this kind of wind is naughty. But if you’re a woman who wears a sundress on a potentially bad weather, you’re nuts.

Fresh wind. There’s such, and it is 30-39 kph. “Small trees in leaf begin to sway” and “crested wavelengths appear on inland waters.” Email me if you figured out both descriptions. And there’s strong wind (40-50 kph). “Large branches in motion.” Telephone lines “whistle.” “Umbrellas are used with difficulty” so don’t bring one.

Then you have “near gale,” “gale,” and “strong gale” with winds from 51 to 87 kph. “Whole trees are in motion. Inconvenience is felt when walking against the wind. Cars veer off the road.” But a gale is nothing compared to a storm (88-102 kph) when trees are not just “in motion,” they disappear along with their leaves and branches and the whistling telephone lines.

What? You don’t know what a gale is? It’s “a strong wind, a very strong wind,” stupid.