What are Thunderstorms and Why Do They Happen in the Afternoons?

A thunderstorm near Taal caused a scare on social media.
Photo/s: shutterstock

Transitioning to the wet season from a sizzling summer, the Philippines could experience more thunderstorms in the next couple of days, like the one in Batangas over the weekend that had social media asking if the Taal Volcano was erupting, PAGASA said.

It was a localized thunderstorm, not an eruption, authorities said. Thunderstorms are basically rainstorms with thunder, lightning and wind gusts. Unlike typhoons, thunderstorms don't last long and dissipate relatively quickly.

On Sunday, some netizens posted photos of Taal with thick, dark clouds and streaks of lightning above it. A few days prior, Phivolcs flagged increasing unrest in the volcano, which remained under Alert Level 2.

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Thunderstorms are more likely to happen as the habagat or rainy season looms, PAGASA forecaster Grace Castañeda told reportr.

"Mas madalas na po ang thunderstorm activities dahil nasa transition na po tayo ng southwest monsoon o habagat, by June po ay maaaring onset na ng tag-ulan kaya kung mapapansin po natin mas dumadalas na po ngayon 'yung thunderstorms."

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Castañeda said the summer heat is fuel for thunderstorm formation, which explains why scattered rains and localized thunderstorms are more likely to happen during the afternoon.

What happened in Taal was an isolated thunderstorm, not a volcanic thunderstorm which happens only during volcanic eruptions, she said.

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Here are some tips on what to do during thunderstorms:

  • Be on alert for announcements in case of rains and thunderstorms. Postpone outdoor activities.
  • When outdoors, avoid seeking shelter under the trees.
  • Get out of bodies of water.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, such as power lines and wire fences.
  • If possible, go indoors or find a safe, enclosed shelter.
  • Always verify the information circulating on social media by visiting PAGASA or Phivolcs' pages.
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