El Niño projected to hit starting July 2023 

A rice field in Tamontaka, Cotabato City cracks up due to the El Nino phenomenon. MindaNews file photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 April) – An El Niño phenomenon will likely develop between July and September this year and will last until the second semester of 2024, an official of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) – Davao said on Monday.

During the Kapehan sa Dabaw, Lolit Vinala, Pagasa-Davao chief meteorological officer, said that there is a “55 % probability for the occurrence of El Niño in the second half of this year after the dry season currently experienced in the country.”

She said the impact of this phenomenon, which is characterized by fewer occurrences of rainfall and typhoons, would be felt starting in the last quarter of 2023.

The El Nino will likely result in 60 % reduction in rainfall, she said.

“That’s a disaster for our agricultural products if we will have that volume of reduction in rainfall,” Vinala said.

She said the agency has yet to determine the intensity of the impending drought – whether it will be weak, moderate or intense.

Vinala noted that a moderate or intense El Niño would have an adverse impact on water supply due to less rainfall, affecting industries dependent on water such as agriculture.

According to Vinala, agriculture would be heavily affected because of the decline in soil moisture, thus decreasing crop production “due to the delayed onset of rainy season and increase in pest and diseases.”

She said the reduction of water supply would affect dams, irrigation and hydropower generation facilities and result in the over extraction of groundwater supply.

Vinala said that less rainfall would impact forest resources while the increase in temperature might likely cause fish kills and red tides.

This may also jack up the cost of potable water, she said.

She said the heat index ranging from 38 to 42 % being felt in the city is not yet the effect of El Niño.

Vinala said the high index is caused by easterlies or warm air from the Pacific Ocean while the sudden heavy rainfall in the evening is caused by a localized thunderstorm.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, El Niño is a naturally occurring phenomenon characterized by the abnormal warming of sea surface temperature in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. 

On average, it occurs every two to seven years and can last up to 18 months, FAO said in a briefer. 

During El Niño episodes, normal patterns of tropical precipitation and atmospheric circulation are disrupted, triggering extreme climate events around the globe, it added. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)