“Strong” El Nino, drier conditions loom

By , on June 24, 2015


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MANILA — Government raised urgency for more water conservation nationwide despite the rainy season’s onset, forecasting even drier conditions in late 2015 and early 2016 due to drought-driving El Nino phenomenon’s expected intensification from “moderate” to “strong” this year.

“The rainy season is an opportunity to save water for drier days ahead – let’s use this resource wisely,” Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) weather expert Anthony Lucero said Tuesday (June 23) on the side of a climate briefing in Metro Manila.

He said people must grab such opportunity as rainy conditions this year would likely prevail until September only.

“We expect the country to experience a long dry period afterwards,” he said.

Lucero attributed such expectation to international climate models’ latest outputs, which indicate El Nino will further intensify later this year and persist until 2016’s first quarter.

Such intensification will likely approximate the 1997-1998 El Nino that ravaged the country, he warned.

Experts already cited the 1997-1998 El Nino as the strongest to affect the country during the 20th century.

They said such El Nino was worse than its 1982-1983 counterpart which caused an estimated USD 13 billion in global damages.

Philippine damage from the 1982-1983 El Nino reached some USD450 million, they also said.

“Expected intensification of El Nino and the fact that this phenomenon is already prevailing and affecting us compounds the problem so we must prepare accordingly,” said Lucero.

In a statement released Tuesday, PAGASA reiterated its call for government agencies to take precautionary measures against El Nino’s negative impacts.

The best time to save water is while the rainy season is in progress, PAGASA also said in its statement.

Despite the El Nino prevailing at present, PAGASA still forecast an average 11 to 16 tropical cyclones (TCs) within the Philippine Area of Responsibility during the June-December 2015 period.

Of such number, Lucero said PAGASA expects one TC this month, three to five TCs in July, two to four TCs in each of August and September, two to three TCs in October, one to two TCs in November and zero to one TC in December.

PAGASA Acting Administrator Dr. Vicente Malano noted that the occurrence of El Nino doesn’t reduce the number of TCs expected in the country.

El Nino affects TCs’ intensity and direction, however, he clarified.

“We’re not discounting the possibility of seeing very strong TCs towards 2015’s end,” he said.

He also said TCs during El Nino tend to recurve northwards instead of crossing the country.

On early Tuesday, PAGASA announced onset of this year’s rainy season.

PAGASA said rainfall data from its weather stations already warranted such announcement.

Intermittent to continuous rains and thunderstorms associated with southwest wind flow will affect Metro Manila and other areas in the country’s western portion, PAGASA said in another statement released Tuesday also.

“With the rainy season’s onset, it’s likely that areas affected by below-normal rainfall conditions will improve in the coming months specially in northern Luzon,” PAGASA also said in the statement.

PAGASA said onset of rainy season in the country is usually between the second half of May and first half of June.

Delayed development of the rain-driving southwest monsoon or ‘habagat’ led to late onset of this year’s rainy season, noted PAGASA.

Late development of ‘habagat’ and below-normal rainfall are the prevailing El Nino’s impacts on the country, PAGASA added.