Below zero temp reported in Mt. Pulag

At the summit of Mt. Pulag. (Photo courtesy of Tin Fuentebella)

A temperature below zero was recorded at the summit of Mount Pulag in Benguet province over the weekend, a government official confirmed.
Emerita Alba, who heads a park that has jurisdiction over the third highest mountain in the Philippines, said temperature in Mount Pulag dropped to negative 2 degrees Celsius.
“We experienced a negative 2 temperature last Saturday,” Alba told Yahoo! Southeast Asia Thursday.
But Alba clarified her office, Mt. Pulag Visitors Center, which hands out clearance to hikers before they can explore Mt. Pulag, does not have instruments to measure conditions in the area with precision.
The parks superintendent said the information only came from the interviews she conducts with mountain climbers, who have actually reached the summit of Mt. Pulag.
“We used to have a device but we lost it. And it is located four to five kilometers away from the mountain, the elevation is far from the summit,” Alba explained.
“We just got the information as we interview the hikers. They have devices that can measure temperatures on the peak,” she added.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) cannot confirm whether such temperature actually occurred in Mt. Pulag.
PAGASA weather forecaster Alvin Pura said they do not have an automatic weather station (AWS) near Mt. Pulag that can prove the extremely cold temperature reported in the area.
“It is possible to have a temperature below 5 degrees Celsius in Mt. Pulag considering the altitude of its summit. But we are not sure if it can drop all the way to zero degrees,” Pura explained.
In a separate interview, Pura said PAGASA was only able to record a 9.5 degrees Celsius temperature in their unmanned station in Banaue, which is the nearest to Mt. Pulag in Benguet, on Thursday morning.
Citing records, Pura added that PAGASA also recorded a 10 degrees Celsius on the same day in Baguio City, which experienced the lowest temperature of 9.5 degrees Celsius on January 18 this season.
The state weather bureau also recorded an 18.5 degrees Celsius in Tagaytay, which had the lowest drop in temperature to 17.6 degrees on January 15.
“We are experiencing extreme cold weather because the snows are beginning to melt in Siberia and China and they are being blown towards our direction by the northeast monsoon,” Pura explained.
But Oghie Dulay, who has been climbing for 17 years, said such low temperatures still do not lessen the dangers it can pose to hikers who usually climb Mt. Pulag.
“Even if it does not reach zero degrees, it’s dangerous for us to climb in weathers like this because usually there is zero visibility,” Dulay explained.
“It also makes the path damp and very slippery. It’s really freezing when we have to camp out over night,” he added.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Benguet has already issued a warning to mountain climbers about the dangers of going to Mt. Pulag.
Fortunately, DENR Protective Area and Wildlife Sector regional technical director Reynald Yawan said there have been no reports of accidents related to the extreme weather conditions in Benguet province.
“We do not recommend them going to Mount Pulag. But usually, the hikers go there for the cold experience,” Yawan explained.