Weak El Niño sets in

By , on March 13, 2015

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MANILA – With the setting in of the El Niño phenomenon in the country, the rainfall pattern in different parts of the country will be affected while it may intensify tropical cyclones and shift their movement, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

According to Anthony Lucero, senior weather specialist of PAGASA’s Climatology and Agrometeorology Division, the recent information gathered by PAGASA from international climate monitoring and prediction institutions indicate that a weak El Nino condition is currently on-going.

“We have a weak El Nino and it may possibly affect the weather pattern in coming months,” Lucero said.

He said that adverse impacts in the country include below normal rainfall and higher than normal temperatures in varying degrees, depending on the location and time period.

Since the country is now within the weak El Nino threshold, he said temperatures were expected to be warmer than normal in many parts of the country.

“We are really expecting below than normal rainfall sa ba’t-ibang parte ng bansa (in different parts of the country) during dry season or summer. Hindi natin puwedeng i-attribute lang iyong mainit na panahon sa El Nino (we can’t attribute the hot weather to El Nino),” he said.

PAGASA usually declared dry or summer season every March, while the start of wet or rainy season in the country happens in June.

The El Niño is the opposite of the La Niña phenomenon, which is associated with “wetter” conditions.

Aside from affecting the normal rainfall pattern in the country, Lucero said the El Niño phenomenon could also intensify tropical cyclones and shift its movement northward.

“The country could still experience normal number of cyclones this year,” he said.

Every year, an average of about 18 to 20 storms affects the Philippines, PAGASA said.

“But the El Nino may cause the behavior of the cyclone to become erratic, affecting its track and intensity. Mas mabuti talaga kung maghahanda tayo at maging vigilant na lang kapag may paparating na bagyo (It is still ideal to be prepared and vigilant when typhoons come),” he said.

The El Niño event occurs when sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific (CEEP) become warmer than normal.

Lucero said that since November last year, warm ocean conditions persist, which shows that El Nino was already in progress.

Lucero said consensus among computer models indicate that a weak El Niño is likely to manifest until middle of the year.

However, he noted that other models also indicate further strengthening of the El Nino towards the end of the year.

Dalawa ang ipinapakita ng mga computer models. Posibleng matapos na ito sa June, July, or August o posibleng lumakas hanggang katapusan ng taong ito (Our compute models show two [scenarios]. It’s possible to end around June, July or August or intensify until the end of this year),” Lucero said.

Pero kung pagbabasehan iyong latest data, mas malaki ang chance nito na middle of this year ay wala na rin ito (But if we’re going to use the latest data as the basis, there’s a big chance that it will be gone by the middle of this year),” he added.

The El Niño, which occurs usually every two to seven years.

PAGASA earlier said that the country experienced the worst El Nino in 1997 to 1998, when it was plagued by dry spell and severe agricultural losses.

The government is closely watching the phenomenon since it could reduce water supply in dams for power and irrigation as it adversely affect the volume of rainfall.