Current Weather In The Philippines – Weather forecasters in the Philippines got a hint in the second week of November 2019. Rain forecasts that are looking further into the future than usual warn that the islands could face more than three weeks of heavy rains. Meteorologists alerted local and national governments, which sprang into action. Cell phone alerts and broadcasts suggest people are preparing to evacuate.
By the time Category 4 Typhoon Kamuri hit the Philippines with torrential rains in early December, it had done far less damage than it could have otherwise. Having plenty of time to prepare is key, says Andrew Robertson, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society in Palisades, N.Y. “This is a great example of how far we’ve come” in weather forecasting, he said. “But we still have to go further.”
Current Weather In The Philippines
Such efforts, known as “subseason forecasts”, aim to fill important gaps in weather forecasting. This approach fits well between good short-term forecasts for the next 10 days or so and seasonal forecasts that look a few months out.
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Subseason forecast predicts weather conditions on average three to four weeks away. Each additional warning day gives emergency managers more time to prepare for incoming heat waves, wind chills, tornadoes or other wild weather. Groups such as the Red Cross began using seasonal forecasts to strategize about weather disasters, such as figuring out where to move emergency supplies when a tropical cyclone might hit an area. Farmers look at sub-seasonal forecasts to better plan when to plant and irrigate crops. And dam and hydroelectric plant operators can use that information to prepare for extra water that might soon overwhelm the system.
Seasonal forecasts are slowly but steadily improving, thanks to better computer models and new insights into the atmospheric and oceanic patterns that drive long-term weather. “This is a new frontier,” said Frédéric Vitart, a meteorologist at the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting in Reading, England.
A forecast made in the second week of November (above) predicted heavy rain to hit the Philippines more than three weeks later, which did come as Typhoon Kammuri (actual path shown, below).
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Weather forecasters are always pushing to do better. They feed weather observations from around the world into the latest computer models, then wait to see what the models tell us the most likely weather in the coming days. Then the researchers adjusted the model and fed it more data, repeating the process over and over until the predictions improved.
But whoever told you it would be 73° Fahrenheit and sunny at 3 p.m. four weeks from Monday. Too far back in time to be accurate. Short-term forecasts like those on your smartphone weather app are based on the observations they include, such as whether it’s currently raining in Northern California or whether there are strong winds over central Alaska. To predict further into the future, how it rained or winded a few days ago became increasingly irrelevant. Most operational weather forecasts are good for about 10 to 14 days, but no more.
Early warning of approaching Typhoon Kammuri allowed the safe evacuation of thousands of Filipinos in early December 2019. Ezra Acayan News/Stringer/Getty Images
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Several times a year, forecasters issue seasonal forecasts, which rely on a very different type of information from the current weather conditions that support short-term forecasts. The long-term seasonal outlook predicts whether it will be warmer or colder, or wetter or drier than usual over the next three months. The broad perspective on how regional climates are expected to vary is based on the slowly evolving planetary patterns that drive weather over the month scale. These patterns include intermittent ocean warming known as El Niño, the extent of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, and the amount of moisture in soil across continents.
Between short-term and seasonal forecasting there is the realm of subseasonal forecasting. It is difficult to make such forecasts because the early information driving short-term forecasts is no longer useful, but the long-term trends driving seasonal forecasts are not yet clear. “That’s one of the reasons there’s so much work going on right now,” said Emily Becker, a climate scientist at the University of Miami in Florida. “We ignored it for decades because it was so difficult.”
Short-term weather forecasts and long-term seasonal forecasts are relatively good. People need something in between, so researchers are trying to improve seasonal forecasts, which look over the next few weeks, using information from a variety of sources, including predictable weather systems.
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Part of the challenge comes from the fact that many patterns influence weather on a sub-seasonal scale—and some of them are unpredictable. One pattern that scientists have been targeting lately, in hopes of improving their predictions, is a phenomenon known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation, or MJO.
The MJO is not as famous as El Niño, but it is just as important in managing global weather. A belt of storms that usually starts in the Indian Ocean and moves eastward, the MJO can occur several times a year.
The MJO actively influences weather around the world, including hurricanes in North America and Europe. Subseason forecasts are more likely to be accurate when the MJO occurs because there are major global weather patterns that will affect weather elsewhere in the coming weeks.
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But there is still a lot of room for improvement estimates. Computer models that simulate weather and climate are not very good at capturing all aspects of the MJO. Specifically, the model struggles to reproduce what happens to the MJO when it hits the mix of Southeast Asian islands and seas, known as the Maritime Continent. This realm – which includes Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea – is a complex interaction between land and sea that meteorologists have difficulty understanding. Models usually show the MJO stalling out there rather than continuing eastward, when in reality the storm usually persists.
The Madden-Julian oscillation is a storm pattern that occurs several times a year in tropical latitudes and can impact weather around the world. The MJO moves eastward along the equator as winds push warm, wet air high into the atmosphere, where it dries, cools and sinks back to the surface.
At Stony Brook University in New York, meteorologist Hyemi Kim tries to understand why models fail on the maritime continent. Many models simulate too much light rainfall in the tropics, he found. That light drizzle dries out the lower atmosphere, contributing to the over-dry conditions favored in this model. As a result, when the MJO reaches the Maritime Continent, the dryness of most models prevents the system from moving eastward, Kim and colleagues report in August 2019 in
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. In real life it doesn’t happen. With a better understanding of the differences between models and observations in this region, researchers hope to make better predictions about how certain MJOs might affect weather around the world.
“If you can predict the MJO better, you can predict the weather better,” Becker said. Fortunately, scientists have made that adjustment by developing better computer models that do a better job of capturing how the atmosphere rotates in real life.
Meteorologist Victor Gensini of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb led a recent project to use MJO, among other things, to predict tornado outbreaks in the central and eastern United States two to three weeks in advance. As the MJO moves in and out of the Maritime Continent, it causes stronger circulation patterns that push air to higher latitudes. The jet stream strengthened over the Pacific Ocean, forming a long-range pattern that was ultimately conducive to tornadoes east of the Rocky Mountains. in June
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, Gensini’s team has shown that they can predict broad patterns of US tornado activity two to three weeks in advance.
Another weather pattern that could potentially help improve seasonality is the rapid rise in temperature in the stratosphere, the upper layer of the atmosphere, over the Arctic or Antarctic regions. This “sudden stratospheric warming” occurs every few years in the Northern Hemisphere and less frequently in the Southern Hemisphere. But when someone appears, it again affects the world. Shortly after northern stratospheric warming, for example, extreme storms frequently arrive in the United States.
In August 2019, one of these rare southern warmings, the biggest in 17 years, started at the South Pole. The temperature rose by almost 40 degrees Celsius, and the wind speed dropped drastically. This event shifted low-level winds around Antarctica northward, which raised temperatures and dried parts of eastern Australia. This helped regulate the dry conditions that caused devastating heat and fires across Australia in late 2019 and early 2020 (
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Thanks to advanced computer models, forecasters at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne see stratospheric warming coming nearly three weeks into the future. This allows them to predict heat
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