Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Rain starts pouring in Cebu

With a report from Nonoy E. Lacson
Manila Bulletin

CEBU CITY – After several days of sunny and humid weather, Cebu finally got a taste of rain as heavy downpour hit the city and nearby towns Monday night, with scattered rain showers continuing Tuesday.

The rain was seen by church officials as a divine intervention following the special prayer, dubbed “Oratio Imperata” for rain, earlier called by the Archdiocese of Cebu to be prayed in all churches here to address the effects of drought in the entire region.

The heavy downpour started past 10 p.m. Monday, lasting for a few hours. Scattered rain showers continued until noon Tuesday in Cebu. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) also forecasts isolated rain showers or thunderstorms mostly over the eastern sections of the Visayas and Mindanao Tuesday.

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal had earlier decided to seek divine intervention to end the suffering of their flock through special prayers, as the heat and dry spell intensify because of the El Niño phenomenon.

The Oratio Imperata was distributed to all parishes in the Archdiocese as part of the church's efforts to seek divine intervention to address the ill effects of drought in the region.

The rain came after the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) announced that the water level at the Buhisan Dam, one of the city’s major sources of water, has gone down to 24 meters from 27 meters since the start of the dry spell.

The MCWD is supplying water to 128,000 households in four cities and four towns in Metro Cebu, such as the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, and Talisay and the towns of Compostela, Liloan, Consolacion, and Cordova.

Edna Inocando, officer in charge of the public affairs department of MCWD, said the water utility firm used to get 6,000 cubic meters to 7,000 cubic meters from the Buhisan Dam but the water district was getting only 2,000 cubic meters to 3,000 cubic meters in recent weeks, a drop of 60 percent.

“Buhisan Dam is an open dam. It is surface water,” said Inocando. “That’s why it is greatly affected by the El Niño.”

She, however, said there is no need to press the alarm button as the Buhisan Dam only produces five percent of MCWD’s supply. The firm gets the other 95 percent to at least 112 water wells.

But Inocando urged the public to cut back on their water consumption, saying that MCWD might be forced to reduce the amount of water it extracts from wells if the water level of the wells continues to drop.

In the Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 9), the Department of Agriculture (DA) will conduct at least 70 flying sorties of cloud seeding operations in Zamboanga City effective Thursday, aimed at inducing rainfall here and alleviate the plight of local farmers affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

The DA cloud seeding activities here and in the Zamboanga Peninsula and other parts of the region were requested by City Mayor Celso Lobregat.

As this developed, a team from the DA’s Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) led by the Teddy Bersabe together with City Agriculturist Diosdado Palacat told Lobregat that the cloud seeding activities will start on Thursday, March 4.

Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap allocated some P3 million for the conduct of the 70 flying sorties.

Cloud seeding is a form of weather modification whereby salt crystals are released into a cloud with the use of airplanes or helicopters.

The particles – salt crystals – grow until they are large enough to cause precipitation to form.

Aside from boosting rainfall, cloud seeding methods are also expected to help raise the levels of water reservoirs.

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