Philippines Cold Weather – Strong Amihan Freezes Cordillera Mountains
Philippines Cold Weather – A strong Amihan (nort-east monsoon) brings icy air from China.
TOURISTS CAUTION: If visiting the rice terraces in Banaue or Bontoc, bring really warm clothes with you.
While writing this article, I sit out on the veranda with a pullover and long pants – it’s really fresh here. Before I forget it, all photos are courtesy of Civil Defense Cordillera / Philip John Haight. Why are we feeling so cold and why are the Cordillera mountains freezing? Let us have a look on the Asian temperature map:
Northern China, Mongolia and Russia encounter extreme cold temperatures of down to -40°C (-40°F). The strong high pressure areas over continental Chine press the cold air south, towards the equator. The earth rotation drifts this cold air southwest. Filipinos call this winds from north-east Amihan. This map is available as a 7 days animated forecast on our Weather page.
Amihan = Philippines Cold Weather
In the Philippines, Amihan refers to the season dominated by the trade winds, which blow in the Philippines as a cool northeast wind. This winds bring moderate temperatures, little or no rainfall, and a prevailing wind from the east. As a rule of thumb, the Philippines’ Amihan weather pattern begins sometime in September or October and ends sometime in May or June. However there may be wide variations from year to year. Such an exception we experience this winter. Amihan is dry and fresh because it blows only on a rather short distance over the fresh sea. So it cannot absorb much of humidity. Habagat on the contrary blows thousands of miles over the warm southern Pacific and brings therefore much more warm and humid air to the Philippines.
The arrows show the wind direction towards the Philippines and color indicates the average wind speeds. The pink color tells us that the Pacific coast of the Visayas is very windy. Also the central and western Visayas experience strong and gusty winds. This map is available as a 7 days animated forecast on our Weather page.
Philippines Cold Weather Impressions
The temperature in Atok, Benguet went below 0°C yesterday and today. Frost blanketed portions of vegetable farms. -2°C and -3°C were recorded on February 15 and 16 respectively. The land around Atok is characterized as mountainous with many steep cliffs. The highest point in the Philippine Highway System is located at Barangay Paoay along Halsema Highway, at 2,255 metres (7,400 ft) above sea level. Atok is 48 kilometres (30 mi) from Baguio City.
This altitude explains the frosty nights up there in the mountains. Dry air cools at about 10°C/1,000m. So Barangay Paoay experiences about 22°C lower temperatures than those measured on the coast.