DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 February) – A weak El Niño is present in the tropical Pacific and will likely continue until the second quarter of this year, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said in an advisory on Wednesday.
Pagasa said the weather system may cause varying impacts such as warmer than average surface temperatures and a prolonged dry season.
The weather bureau predicted “generally way below to below normal rainfall conditions over most parts of the country except for southern Mindanao and Surigao del Sur where near normal is likely” in March.
In April, there will be “generally below normal rainfall conditions in Luzon and the Visayas while near normal mostly in Mindanao,” it said.
Generally below normal rainfall conditions in most parts of southern Luzon and the Visayas while near normal conditions in most parts of northern Luzon and Mindanao are expected in May.
In June, most parts of the Visayas and Mindanao are expected to have near normal rainfall conditions, but most parts of Luzon (except the eastern sections) will experience below normal rainfall conditions.
The varying rainfall conditions across the country from March to June will determine which provinces in the country will be hit by dry season, dry spell and drought.
In March, a dry season will affect 22 provinces including nine in Mindanao (Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Agusan del Sur, Basilan and Lanao del Sur). No provinces will be hit by dry season from April to June.
Also in March, a dry spell will hit the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Tawi-Tawi, as well as 26 provinces in Luzon (including Metro Manila) and 10 others in the Visayas. The dry spell will continue to affect Misamis Occidental and Surigao del Norte, and spread to the provinces of Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte and Dinagat Islands in April.
In May, only Camiguin will experience dry spell in Mindanao along with Rizal province in Luzon and Negros Oriental, Cebu, Siquijor and Southern Leyte in the Visayas. The weather phenomenon will persist until June in Rizal.
Drought will hit five provinces in Luzon and four others in Mindanao (Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Maguindanao and Sulu) in March. It will no longer be felt in Zamboanga del Sur and Maguindanao in April but will continue in Sulu and Zamboanga Sibugay and affect Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga del Norte, too.
Drought will hit 17 provinces in Luzon and Aklan in the Visayas in April.
In May, only Misamis Occidental and Dinagat will experience drought. However, it will affect 21 provinces in Luzon and 10 others in the Visayas.
Drought will hit fewer provinces in June – 13 in Luzon, five in the Visayas and one in Mindanao (Dinagat).
Pagasa defined drought as three consecutive months of way below normal rainfall (60 percent reduction from average) or five consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition (21 percent to 60 percent reduction from average).
Dry spell means three consecutive months of below normal rainfall (21 percent to 60 percent reduction from average) or two months of consecutive way below normal rainfall (more than 60 percent reduction from average).
Dry condition is defined as having two consecutive months of below normal rainfall (21-60 percent drop in average rainfall).
Foreign weather agencies gave varying predictions on the length of the El Niño.
The Tokyo Climate Center said the El Niño conditions “are likely (70%) to continue until August 2019.”
The APEC Climate Center in Busan, South Korea said “positive sea surface temperature anomalies are likely to remain across most of the tropical Pacific Ocean for February-April 2019, and become weak or return to near average for May-July 2019. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)