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YEARENDER 2014 disasters: Typhoon belt shifts to Visayas

MANILA, Philippines - The typhoons that hit the country in 2014 were not only stronger, the “typhoon belt” also shifted to the Visayas and outlying islands.

From northern Luzon, particularly Batanes and the Bicol region, the typhoon belt is now in southern Luzon and the Visayas, including Masbate, Romblon, Aklan, Iloilo and northern Palawan, Commission on Climate Change (CCC) commissioner Naderev Saño told a recent science forum sponsored by the Los Baños-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

He said most of the typhoons followed the Pacific-Visayas-West Philippine Sea path.

Of the 20 typhoons that hit the country each year, Saño said five to six are stronger with wind speed of 220 kilometers per hour, compared to a maximum of three in previous years.

“They bring a lot of rain,” he added, citing PAGASA’s computer models projecting that the rainy season could be 60 percent wetter and the dry season 60 percent drier.

Getting worse

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The country’s climate also appears to be getting worse. A decade ago, the Philippines ranked as the third most vulnerable to climate change among countries in Southeast Asia. Vietnam topped the list followed by Indonesia.

In 2013, the Philippines topped the list of countries affected by climate change, as Sen. Cynthia Villar noted in her lecture last Dec. 4 SEARCA Agriculture and Development Seminar Series  in Los Baños.

The senator, who chairs the Senate committee on agriculture and food, cited a report by German think-tank Gemanwatch, which said that the Philippines, followed by Cambodia and India, suffered the most from the effects of climate change in 2013.

Germanwatch cited the damage caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda that left thousands dead and missing particularly in Leyte and Samar.

Disastrous year

The year 2014 was also disastrous, with the arrival of another super typhoon – Ruby. The 18 deaths caused by Ruby were  fewer compared to Yolanda but its strong winds pummeled hundreds of thousands of homes across the same path as Yolanda.

Among the killer typhoons in 2014 was Glenda, which cut a wide swath of destruction from the Bicol region to Metro Manila, toppling countless trees and electric posts, including those in the University of the Philippines-Los Baños complex.

Typhoon Seniang capped 2014 with at least 55 deaths.

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