Pagasa: Severe dry spell to start in next 3 months
MANILA, Philippines — Expect hot and dry conditions in the next three months until the early part of 2024, as the weather bureau on Tuesday raised an El Niño alert amid rising temperatures experienced in several parts of the country.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said that based on recent conditions and model forecasts, the El Niño phenomenon might “emerge” in the rainy season between June and August.
According to a statement by Pagasa Administrator Vicente Malano, there was now 80 percent probability of a severe dry season that “may persist until the first quarter” of next year.
“With this development, the Pagasa El Niño Southern Oscillation (Enso) alert and warning system is now raised to El Niño Alert,” the state weather bureau said.
El Niño Alert, an upgrade from El Niño Watch, is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of El Niño within the next two months at a probability of 70 percent or higher.
Records by Pagasa showed that the country’s heat index— an indicator of discomfort that an average person experiences due to temperature and humidity— will remain around 40 degrees Celsius in the next several weeks.
Highest heat index
The highest heat index recorded by the weather bureau was at 49 C on April 16 in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
The weather bureau also explained that El Niño, the “warm phase” of Enso, is characterized by unusually warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.
The likelihood of below-normal rainfall conditions is also increased by El Niño and could lead to negative impacts such as dry spells and droughts in some parts of the country, Pagasa said.
In the western part of the country, on the other hand, above-normal rainfall conditions can still be expected during the southwest monsoon season, locally known as “habagat,” it added.
“All concerned government agencies and the general public are encouraged to keep on monitoring and take precautionary measures against the impending impacts of El Niño,” Pagasa said.
In April, President Marcos ordered the creation of a government team focused on mitigating the impact of the looming El Niño phenomenon.
“He wanted us to ensure a whole-of-government approach through the mechanisms of the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council). He specifically instructed us to form an El Niño team,” Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno of the Office of Civil Defense said.
‘Better to be prepared’
“His instruction was for us to make sure that we would have long-term processes that are protocol-based and scientific. Of course, it’s better for us to be prepared,” he added.
El Niño is known to upset normal weather patterns, bringing heavy rainfall in some countries and dry spells and drought in others, including the Philippines.
First observed in the 1600s, it usually occurred toward the Christmas season, hence the name El Niño referring to the child Jesus.