Sidetrip: Baler’s PAG-ASA Weather Station
Located on the hilltop of Bgy Zabali, Baler, Aurora, at 178.2 meters above sea level. This is just one of the numerous weather stations of PAGASA scattered in different parts of the country.
This station, strategically located between the Sierra Madre mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean, is also one of the ten weather stations equipped with the Doppler Radar. These weather radars have the ability to scan the innards of cloud systems, especially typhoons, which aid the PAGASA forecasters in their weather forecasts. The Baler weather station is one of the weather stations in the Philippines east coast that provides a first line of defense on incoming typhoons.
Except for some sections which are still being constructed, the road leading to the station is already made of concrete. The ascent, however, is very challenging. The steepness of the road makes it a popular destination for extreme bikers.
Entrance to the facility is free, and though the site is isolated there are staffs manning the station round the clock, providing local weather reports which are relayed to the Manila headquarters. The staffs are friendly and accommodating. One of them, the weatherman Mr. Arthur Querijero, toured us to some of their facilities and explained the infographics displayed in their office to us. Though his shift already passed he still gave some of his time to entertain us.
Like the other weather radar stations we previously visited, this station is placed on high ground. This is important given the mountainous nature of the country. But the station itself placed only at a nearby hill and not on the Sierra Madre itself. As the radar signals can’t penetrate through the mountains, everything beyond there is the radar’s blind spot.
Since it is situated on the high ground, the weather station’s rooftop offers a 360-degree view of the surroundings. The Sierra Madre, Aniao Islets, the Baler Bay, the Dicasalarin Cove and its beaches and the vastness of the Pacific Ocean can be clearly seen from here. We came here early in the day, in a calm, cloudy weather, and the sea breeze gives a very refreshing feeling. Behind the station is the scrapyard where broken equipment are stored.
While the Philippines has generally a tropical climate, the Philippines actually has four recognized climate type, based on the distribution of rainfall. The climate of the East Coast and the West Coast of Luzon is different and the Sierra Madre plays an important role in the climate differences. The mountains serve as a barrier to the passing cloud and moisture, hence the climate differences between the opposite sides of the mountain.
Now I already have an idea why while it’s wet and flooding in Metro Manila, it is very hot in Baler. The climates of those two places are different.
From Baler, take the road straight to the Dicasalarin Beach.
From Baler, hire a vehicle and try to convince the driver to take you here; many drivers are discouraged from taking the very steep road going to the Baler station. It’s better to alight at the ground level or halfway and take the rest of the route by foot. From the bottom, the walk takes about 20 minutes.
Most tricycle drivers are offering tour packages going to popular tourist spots in Baler and nearby towns. Just talk to the Municipal Tourism Office about this.
Leo Lorente – Baler Tourism Office