According to a press conference held by PAGASA last August 24, 2016, La Niña is expected to develop with a probability of 55 to 60%. According to Analiza Solis of PAGASA’s Climate Monitoring and Prediction, the phenomenon, which will be likely weak and short-lived, may occur in either in late September or October this year.
Understanding La Niña
La Niña, which literally means “the girl” in Spanish is characterized by unusually cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the Central and Eastern Equatorial Pacific.
If and when La Niña comes, more rainfall is expected over the eastern side of the country, considering that the projected cyclone tracks move close to the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) during this period. About 5 to 9 cyclones are expected to enter the PAR from September to February 2017. `
Impacts of La Niña
Back in 2005 to 2006, areas in Calapan in Oriental Mindoro, Camarines Sur, Quezon, Iloilo and Palawan experienced severe floods, while landslides were triggered in Isabela. Such incidents occurred while the northeast monsoon prevailed with Tropical Depression “Agaton” hitting Visayas and Mindanao.
This also coincided with a weak La Niña.
The weather bureau has already given precautions to the public to stay alert and to keep monitoring the development of La Niña. Also, all concerned agencies are advised to take precautionary measures to mitigate the potential impacts of the looming La Niña.
Global Watch on La Niña
There are also impacts of La Niña worldwide.
La Niña typically contributes to more hurricanes in the Atlantic. Last month, Hurricane Gaston hit the mid-Atlantic, while in Norway, more than 300 wild reindeer were killed by a lightning strike at the national park.
In Asia, Indonesia is experiencing La Niña until September. Last July, over 50,000 people were affected due to floods when a river overflowed in East Java. There were also four people reported dead in North Sulawesi due to landslides. The only good thing about La Niña is that it will keep forest fires from spreading.
Meanwhile, in South Africa where there is no assurance of a La Niña, residents are hoping for rain. According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology and the UN weather agency, if ever La Niña does occur in South Africa, it will be a weak one. This year, the country recorded its lowest rainfall since 1904. If another dry spell hits the country this summer, its agricultural production would greatly suffer. South Africa only managed to produce 7.2 million tons of maize, down 28% from last year’s 9 million tons.
A few weeks from entering the “ber” months, here are eight things you should know about the 8th month of the year in the aspects of weather and astronomy.
1. Habagat = Rain
The effect of the Southwest Monsoon prevails this month and may be aggravated by a weather disturbance. Locally known as Hanging Habagat, these warm and moist winds will bring rain mostly in the western section of Luzon and Visayas.
Another weather system making its appearance is the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), an area where winds coming from the northern and southern hemispheres meet. When the winds converge, convective clouds are formed, bringing rains in affected areas.
The ITCZ is also considered as the breeding ground of the Low Pressure Area (LPA), which may develop and intensify into it a tropical cyclone or “bagyo”. However, the Ridge of the High Pressure area (HPA) could still extend over the boundary and may bring warm and fair weather in certain areas.
2. Bagyo Season far from over
According to PAGASA, an average of 2 to 4 tropical cyclones enter the Philippine Area
of Responsibility (PAR) every August. According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Gener Quitlong, the impending La Niña may also increase the number and intensity of tropical cyclones.
3. “Hit or miss”
In terms of cyclone tracks, the historical record of PAGASA shows two scenarios. Cyclones may hit land, particularly the Luzon area or may just move closer to the landmass before moving farther away, sparing our country.
4. Normal temperatures
In Metro Manila, temperatures may range from 24.2 to 31.3 degrees Celsius. Metro Cebu will have 25 degrees Celsius as its normal minimum temperature and 31.7 degrees Celsius as the normal maximum. In Mindanao, particularly in Metro Davao, temperatures may reach 24 to 31.7 degrees Celsius.
5. Near-normal to normal rainfall
After several months of way below-normal rainfall and drought, affected areas may now experience improved rainfall conditions. Most parts in the country will experience near- normal or 81% or more of the normal amount of rainfall. If the Habagat becomes dominant, rains may be concentrated in the western section of Luzon and Visayas.
6. Looming La Niña
Based on the latest report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), La Niña is expected to develop this year, but may not be as strong as the previous La Niña episode that occurred in 2010-2011.
La Niña is characterized by the unusual large-scale cooling of ocean temperatures in the Central and Eastern Equatorial Pacific (CEEP). Though there is no chance for El Niño to re-develop, there is a 50- 60% probability of a La Niña development in the 3rd quarter of this year and may last until the end of 2016.
La Niña is often associated with wet conditions in some parts of Asia including the Philippines. It will bring more rains, slightly cooler temperatures, and moderate to strong tropical cyclone activities.
7. Shooting stars
Look up! According to PAGASA, August is an ideal time for skywatchers and astronomy enthusiasts. This month, spectators may enjoy the Perseids Meteor Shower, which will peak in the late evening to the early morning hours of August 12 to 13. If favorable weather permits, one can observe at least 50 meteors or more.
8. Parade of planets
Did you miss the alignment of five planets last February? Fret not; the space has something in store for you this month! Five bright planets in the solar system will once again align in the night sky, visible to the naked eye.
One will be able to witness Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn by tracing a line away from the setting sun. The best time to see this event is on August 18 when the moon is on its full phase. The light from the full moon will help illuminate the fainter planets, making it more visible for the observer. It is advisable to find a dark and unobstructed area – without low lying buildings or trees.
World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
In line with Tropical Cyclone Week, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) conducted a La Niña Forum last June 15, 2016. This year’s theme, Tag- baha at Tag-bagyo, Handa na Tayo!, aims to prepare the public for the impacts of the increasing probability of La Niña.
La Niña is defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a phenomenon characterized by the unusually low sea surface temperatures or cooling of the ocean in the Equatorial Pacific. As the opposite of El Niño, La Niña will bring more rains, and moderate to strong tropical cyclone activities.
According to the Chief of PAGASA’s Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section (CLIMPS), Mr. Anthony Lucero, El Niño is still in its decaying stage. It continues to weaken and is more likely to return to neutral condition by the end of June or July.
Though El Niño is currently weakening, Lucero explained that most parts of the country may still feel its impact. Many provinces may still experience below-normal rainfall until next month.
Majority of climate models show a possible development of La Niña during the second half of 2016. Despite this forecast, Lucero said there will be less tropical cyclones this year. “Talagang magkukulang tayo ng bagyo ngayon… pero nangyari na ito noon, walang unusual o abnormal dito.” (We will experience less tropical cyclones, but this has already happened before. Nothing unusual or abnormal about it.)
Annually, the average number of tropical cyclones that enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) is 19 to 21. We’ve already covered half of 2016, yet there is still no sign of a tropical cyclone. According to PAGASA, 8 to 14 tropical cyclones are expected to enter or develop within the boundary from June to November, and possibly a maximum of 16 until December.
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with PAGASA Weather Forecaster Gener Quitlong, he explained that after a strong El Niño episode, our country is likely to experience less number of tropical cyclones. This happened in 1972-1973, wherein we had only 12 tropical cyclones, and 11 tropical cyclones in 1997-1998.
New PAGASA Services
In preparation for the flood and cyclone season, PAGASA continues to upgrade their services. A book entitled, “Patnubay sa Weder Forkasting” was launched this week. This aims not only to simplify technical terms, but also to familiarize everyone with weather terms in other local languages, such as Ilokano and Bikolano.
The creation of the book was headed by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, in close coordination with the weather bureau. Being the first-ever Filipino weather dictionary, it serves as a response to President Noynoy Aquino’s appeal for a more understandable and simplified way of crafting weather forecasts.
Here are some of the commonly used words included in the dictionary:
PAGASA also introduced an updated version of their mobile application, which includes weather information and flood alerts.
This app is a product of the collaboration between PAGASA and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Now available for android phones, it can be downloaded through Google Play.
Meanwhile, reading materials, which include information about La Niña, Rainfall Warning System and the Tropical Cyclone Warning System (formerly known as Public Storm Warning Signal), were also launched at the forum. This is part of the Be Sure Project which was successfully made through the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The online community is abuzz after a Miss Earth Philippines contestant shared her insights in the Q & A portion of the beauty pageant.
During the coronation night last June 11, candidates were each given 30 seconds to elaborate on trending topics they had picked from a basket.
Miss Zamboanga, Bellatrix Tran, drew #ElNiñoLaNiña, two weather-related events that are serious global threats.
This was Tan’s answer: “El Niño is what we are facing right now. If we do simple things like planting trees, then we will not experience drought. So if we start now, we will achieve La Niña.” Unfortunately, her last line elicited laughter from the audience and judges.
What should have been her answer:
Everyone should read up on El Niño, a climatic condition wherein an unusual increase in sea surface temperature or warming of the ocean is observed. It mostly affects the agricultural sector due to its effects of reduced rainfall and warmer weather.
In the Philippines, PAGASA confirmed the start of the El Niño phenomenon last May 2015. To date, El Niño is at its decaying stage but has left damages worth P7 billion based on the records of the Department of Agriculture from January to May 2016.
Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines La Niña as a phenomenon characterized by unusually low sea surface temperatures or the cooling of the ocean in the Equatorial Pacific. Its effects may include moderate to strong monsoon activity, moderate to strong tropical cyclones, above-normal rains or above -normal temperatures. A La Niña episode does not always follow an El Niño, but it may happen especially if the latter is a strong one.
As of posting, there is no confirmed occurrence of La Niña, but there is a 50% chance that it will develop in the coming months, according to PAGASA.
Miss Philippines Earth aims to showcase not just nature’s beauty, but to also raise awareness on social concerns and environmental issues, including weather phenomena.
So remember that whether you’re planning to join a beauty contest or not, remember that it pays to be equipped with knowledge on social issues, especially those that are directly affecting our country.
While El Niño is drawing closer to its end, it may still have an effect in several parts of the country this month. Dry condition may affect the province of Marinduque ,while dry spells are expected in Benguet, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Aurora, Batangas, Laguna, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Southern Leyte and Davao Oriental.
Meanwhile, droughts continue to threaten Abra, Ifugao, Kalinga Apayao, Mountain Province, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan and Masbate.
In Visayas, droughts are likely to be experienced in Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor and Biliran. Affected areas in Mindanao include Zamboanga Sibugay, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Surigao del Norte, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
El Niño is now on its final stage, and is more likely to return to neutral condition by the end of July. While this may bring good news to our farmers highly affected by extreme drought, meteorological agencies warn the public about the impending occurrence of the La Niña.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines La Niña as a phenomenon characterized by the unusually low sea surface temperatures or cooling of the ocean in the Equatorial Pacific. NOAA added that a La Niña episode does not always follow an El Niño, but it may happen especially if the latter is a strong one.
The chief of PAGASA-Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section (CLIMPS), Mr. Anthony Lucero, said La Niña episode may occur on October to December 2016. As of now, there is a 50% chance that it will develop in the coming months.
According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Buddy Javier, the La Niña’s effects in the Philippines may include the following:
1. Moderate to strong monsoon activity
The southwest monsoon or habagat is expected to affect the country during the rainy season, which usually sets in by the end of May to early June. If La Niña occurs, the activity of habagat may intensify, bringing more rains in the country.
2. Moderate to strong tropical cyclone activity
La Niña may also influence the intensity and impacts of tropical cyclones or bagyo that will enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) in the second half of 2016.
3. Above-normal rainfall / wetter weather condition
The opposite of El Niño, La Niña means more rains. More rains may trigger more flooding and landslides. After months of extremely dry days, we must now prepare for extremely wet days.
4. Near to below-normal air temperatures
By the time La Niña fully develops, the tag-init season may have already ended. Temperatures may return to normal or may be below average.
PAGASA will continuously monitor the weather while advisories will be immediately issued if needed. The public is advised to monitor updates.