(Photo courtesy of Bishop Julito Cortes, Diocese of Dumaguete)

The plumes of ash and volcanic smog that Mount Kanlaon volcano spewed when it erupted last Monday are highly unlikely to reach Palawan or affect the province’s skies, according to a weather specialist.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Palawan weather specialist Sonny Pajarilla explained that considering the direction of the wind since the volcano erupted on June 3, the volcanic ash and smog are not expected to reach the province.

He explained that when Kanlaon erupted, the wind came from the south all day, from the ground up to two kilometers high. But the ash from the volcano rose at least 15 kilometers high where the wind was coming from the northeast.

“We have to understand that yung plumes ay umabot sa mataas, 15 kilometers ata. So sa upper level, ang hangin ay northeast so dadalahin talaga sa atin, sa western part ng Kanlaon,” Pajarilla said in an interview with Palawan News.

(Photo courtesy of Atty. Dino Yulo, 5th District, Negros Occidental Congressman)

(We have to understand that the plumes reached a high altitude, around 15 kilometers. So at the upper level, the wind is coming from the northeast, which will carry it towards us, to the western part of Kanlaon.)

Meteorologically speaking, he said, at the surface where the air is at a breathable level, the wind direction is coming from the southeast, so there is relatively no chance for the ashes to reach the province.

“But of course, observations has to be done and recorded,” he said.

He further elaborated that the primary effects of the ash clouds, if there are any, can be observed even with the naked eye.

“Kaya nga kung mapansin ninyo, hindi naman naging hazy kasi usually, ang direktang epekto nyan ay nagiging hazy pero hindi naman. Malayo pa rin ang ating natatanaw,” he explained. “So, kahit wala kang instrumento, with just naked eye, ang epekto ng volcanic ash ay magkakaroon ng haze. Pero so far, maulap talaga.”

(If you notice, it didn’t become hazy because usually, the direct effect of that is haze, but it didn’t. We can still see far. So, even without instruments, with just the naked eye, the effect of volcanic ash is to create haze. But so far, it’s naturally cloudy.)

The weatherman also expressed doubts about reports circulating on social media claiming that sulfur dioxide (SO2) had reached Palawan, stating that there should be scientific data to support such claims.

While the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) is responsible for handling such matters, he emphasized that any report should be backed by data.

“Kung saan galing, meron bang nagsukat, saan ba nagsukat? May satellite data ba yun? Next, gaano ba kadami? Nasa hazardous level ba?” Pajarilla asked.

(Where did it come from? Was there any measurement taken? Where was it measured? Is there satellite data available for that? Next, how much is it? Is it at a hazardous level?)

Phivolcs also refuted reports that SO2 or volcanic smog from Kanlaon reached Palawan and other provinces in Luzon and elsewhere in the country, stating that Palawan is too far from Negros for SO2 to reach.

Returning to his expertise, Pajarilla mentioned that the effects of the eruption of Kanlaon were somewhat mitigated by the onset of the rainy season.

“Ano ang significance? So yung plumes, hahalo sa ulap at babagsak as tubig na, kumpara kung hindi, dust yun na pwedeng malanghap,” he said, adding that while it is not really much of a concern, people still have to take precautionary measures especially those who have pulmonary problems.

(What’s the significance? So the plumes will mix with the clouds and fall as rainwater, compared to if it’s not, it’s dust that can be inhaled.)