PAGASA: Despite rains El Nino still possible in June

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 June) – The rains have come but the city might still experience the onset of the El Nino phenomenon or dry spell this month, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

PAGASA based its prediction on its monitoring of the rising temperatures of the Pacific Ocean.

It its website PAGASA said the warming of waters in the tropical part of the Pacific could develop into an El Niño which may last for nine months.

Department of Agriculture (DA) XI Assistant Regional Director Maria Febe Orbe said in an interview last week that they are still preparing for the worst.

If El Niño strikes this month, it would affect the whole of Davao del Sur, while Davao Oriental and the upland regions of Davao City would be “moderately vulnerable”. Hagonoy, Magsaysay and Matanao towns in Davao del Sur are considered “areas of concern”.

Acting City Agriculturist Recelio Tabay said 90,000 hectares of rice, corn, fruit and industrial lands, particularly in Paquibato and Marilog districts, will be affected if the dry spell hit the city.

But Orbe said the DA-Regional Field Office XI, in close coordination with the Bureau of Soils and Water Management, are gearing up for cloud seeding operations if the hot weather persists this month.

The agency will pinpoint areas likely to be hit hard by the El Niño as priorities for said operations

A month-long cloud seeding operation would cost the DA P2 million for the lease of Philippine Air Force aircraft and procurement of salt, DA-RFO 11 OIC Regional Executive Director Remelyn Recoter said in a press conference Friday at Royal Mandaya Hotel.

Recoter recommended the planting of drought-tolerant varieties of corn and palay.

Corn could last up to three months without water, she added.

The DA-XI assured there would be no rice shortage in the region as 51,000 hectares or rice lands are due for the May to August cropping season.

Regional Director Fatma Idris of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) also expressed concern over the possibility of an El Niño.

She said her agency has already advised fish cage or punong owners to reduce their fish stock density by 50 percent. This is to avoid fish kill, as high volume of fish in a cage would lead to higher stress levels and greater risk for fish kills, she said.

PAGASA, meanwhile, still warned the public that tropical cyclones may still occur even during an El Niño.

The state weather bureau advised agencies such as the DA and BFAR to take preventive actions to mitigate the impact of the dry spell. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)