Heat Wave, Not Likely

MANILA, Philippines - Temperatures may be soaring, but the weather agency has doused speculations that the country is in the grip of a heat wave.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) senior weather forecaster Jori Loiz said the sweltering heat is normal at this time of the year.

Citing the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) definition, Loiz said a heat wave occurs when the daily maximum temperature for at least five days exceeds the average or normal temperature by 5 degrees Celsius.

''If we apply this definition in the Philippines, this is impossible to achieve,'' he said.

PAGASA's own definition of a heat wave is when the daily maximum temperature for at least three days exceeds the average or normal maximum temperature of 3 degrees Celsius.

As an example, Loiz pointed to Metro Manila, where the average maximum temperature during April is 34.9 degrees Celsius. Only when the temperature in the metropolis hits at least 37.9 or 38 degrees Celsius for three straight days will a heat wave be officially declared.

''If we take a look at the recorded temperatures for the past few days in the country, we only averaged 35 to 36 degrees Celsius. The recent recorded maximum temperatures also in Metro Manila are still within or even lower than the normal temperature during April,'' he said.

The highest recorded temperature in Metro Manila so far this year is 35.9 degrees Celsius, and the highest in the country is 38.4 degrees Celsius registered at Clark in Subic, Pampanga.

''A heat wave is still too far from happening in the country because there are weather systems that equalize the surging temperature,'' Loiz said.

The hottest hour in a day is about 2 p.m. because ''although the sun is overhead at 12 noon, there is a lag time of two to three hours before the land heats up and that is the time that the temperature rises.''

This month, PAGASA said the expected ranges of temperature in the country are: 22°C to 36°C in the lowlands of Luzon, 16°C to 26°C in the mountainous areas of Luzon, 23°C to 34°C for Visayas, 22°C to 34°C in the lowlands of Mindanao, and 18°C to 32°C in the mountains of Mindanao.

As temperatures continue to soar, the Quezon City Health Department (QCHD) advised residents to take precautions against most common dry-season diseases and heat-related illnesses.

Dr. Antonietta Inumerable, chief of the QCHD, said her office and the barangay health centers are ready to treat patients suffering from heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The centers are also equipped to treat conjunctivitis; chicken pox; allergy/skin rashes; skin cancer (Melanoma); respiratory infections and pneumonia; food-borne sickness like food poisoning; water-borne diseases like gastroenteritis; dengue fever; and dog bites.

Inumerable assured the public the city health department has enough medicines stocked in the city's central warehouse to last until June.

Among the medicines ready for distribution to patients in need are antibiotics, analgesics/antipyretics, anti-asthma, and anti-hypertensive. These medicines are also available in the city's health centers, she said.

Inumerable said residents should avoid outdoor activities during excessive heat; drink plenty of fluids particularly when working outdoors; splash the body frequently with water during outdoor activity and drink plenty of fluids before feeling thirsty; avoid heavy sweaty exercises in humid conditions; avoid alcohol, coffee, and soda; wear light weight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes; and wear sunglasses and hat as protection from the sun.

(With additional reporting by Chito A. Chavez)

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