El Niño to affect frequency, intensity of storms, says Pagasa
MANILA, Philippines — The persisting El Niño phenomenon may affect the frequency of tropical cyclones this rainy season, but Filipinos should still brace for potentially intense storms, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said on Monday.
Flaviana Hilario, Pagasa deputy administrator, said that during the warm climate phenomenon, which is expected to last until year-end, the tracks and intensity of the cyclones were being affected.
“The storms usually recurve and change their track away from the country,” Hilario said at a press briefing.
“These may not make landfall but the intensity of these storms can still be strong, based on our statistics,” she said.
Extended dry season
El Niño is a climate event that takes place when the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean becomes abnormally warm.
For the Philippines, which currently experiences a weak El Niño, it marks an extended dry season, weak monsoon activity, above normal air temperature and below normal rainfall, with dry spells or drought in some parts of the country, according to Pagasa.
Hilario said that based on their rainfall forecast, some areas would experience below normal rainfall conditions from June to August.
“But we know that during these months, our rainfall is really quite high. So even if it’s a 50-percent reduction, it’s still a very high amount,” she said.
Prepare for strong storms
Despite the climate conditions, Vicente Malano, Pagasa administrator, said that Filipinos should still prepare for possibly strong storms, noting that Tropical Storm “Ondoy” (international name: Ketsana) happened during an El Niño period in September 2009.
The storm inundated Metro Manila and nearby provinces, after it released rainfall equivalent to a month’s volume of rain in just six hours. Over 400 deaths were recorded.
“But even without El Niño, we are expecting stronger storms with heavier rainfall due to global warming,” Malano said.
Pagasa earlier reported that it was expecting five to eight tropical storms to affect parts of the country from June to August.
The country faces an average of 20 storms every year.
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