Just three days after the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that La Niña had ended, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) announced the onset of the rainy season last June 4, 2021.
From October 2020 to March this year, a weak and moderate La Niña, which refers to the cooling of ocean surface temperatures, prevailed in the country. Coupled with the Northeast Monsoon or Amihan, it was predicted to bring above-normal rain conditions, which were seen in previous typhoons. On November 1 last year, Super Typhoon Rolly, 2020’s strongest tropical cyclone in the world, devastated 8 regions including Bicol. Floods, mudslides and storm surges affected 2 million people. In the same month on the 11th, Typhoon Ulysses struck Central Luzon, causing massive floods and landslides.
Now, the Southwest Monsoon or Habagat—warm and moist air that speeds up cloud formation that causes rainfall—has become the dominant weather system in the country. This is one of the factors that prompted PAGASA to declare the start of the rainy season. In a press statement, PAGASA administrator Dr. Vincent Malano explained, “The passage of Tropical Storm Dante and the occurrence of widespread rainfall in the last five days for areas under Type 1 climate confirm the onset of the rainy season. Intermittent rains associated with the Southwest Monsoon will continue to affect Metro Manila and the western section of the country.” The western parts of Luzon, Mindoro, Negros and Palawan fall under the Type 1 climate category.
Massive flooding in Romblon due to the torrential rains brought by #DantePH. (Photos from PIA-Romblon)
The End of La Niña Does Not Spell Safety
With La Niña ending last June 1, WMO said that “neutral conditions are likely to dominate the tropical Pacific in the next few months.” PAGASA hydrologist Rosalie Pagulayan further explains, “There’s no La Niña, no El Niño, which means wind conditions have returned to normal. So, we can expect a normal amount of rainfall from June to September in the whole country.”
But as with everything related to the weather, nothing is set in stone. In WMO’s press release, the chance of neutral conditions continuing until July is at 78%. This decreases to 55% by August to October, while conditions are uncertain for the rest of the year.
Despite this high chance of neutral conditions, PAGASA warned that “The probability of near to above-normal rainfall conditions is high in the next two months (June-July.) The public and all concerned agencies are advised to take precautionary measures against the impacts of the rainy season.” Simply said, the end of La Niña does not mean that the country will be safe from tropical cyclone risks. “We can’t discard the possibility of extreme events,” says Pagulayan. “Our mindset should always be disaster preparedness.”
The Philippines is the country most-visited by tropical cyclones in the world. Here, the rainy season is synonymous with typhoons and floods. “This month of June, PAGASA forecasts that we may experience 1 to 3 tropical cyclones. Usually, tropical cyclone occurrences peak from July to September.” Though PAGASA announced there will be monsoon breaks or non-rainy periods which may last for days or weeks, Pagulayan stressed that we are currently in the thick of typhoon season.
How Manmade Activities Worsen Natural Disasters
But despite the absence of La Niña, Tropical Storm Dante caused flash floods and landslides in Visayas and Mindanao earlier this month. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported 11 deaths and over 122,000 people affected. Damage in agriculture was pegged at over ₱90 million, while infrastructure damage was over ₱130 million. “The amount of rainfall Dante produced was staggering and unexpected,” admitted Pagulayan. “In my opinion, the change in landscape may have been a major contributor.”
Aftermath of tropical storm #DantePH at Barangay Cabil-isan in Daram, Samar. (Photos courtesy of Slug Rosales)
Pagulayan refers to the altered natural environment brought about by human acts such as deforestation and development projects. In an earlier interview, Dr. Renato Solidum Jr, officer-in-charge of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, and undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate explained how manmade activities can worsen disaster impacts. “Landslides occur in steep places or those with soft ground. Destroying our mountains through deforestation or housing developments leads to faster erosion and lowland flooding. The eroded soil along with improper waste disposal fill up our rivers and drainages, also causing floods.”
WMO echoed this statement by saying that now that La Niña has ended, climate events are now in the hands of human-induced climate change. “La Niña has a temporary global cooling effect, which is typically strongest in the second year of the event. This means that 2021 has got off to a relatively cool start – by recent standards. This should not lull us into a false sense of security that there is a pause in climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
Taalas warned that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere remain high, fueling global warming. In fact, WMO predicted a 90% chance of at least one year between 2021 to 2025 to become the warmest on record. Soaring temperatures mean warmer oceans, which spell disaster. This, Pagulayan confirmed in a previous article. “Warmer oceans result to more evaporation. When there’s more moisture in the atmosphere, this may result in intensified tropical cyclones,” she said. “This means stronger rains, storm surges, and the possibility of tornadoes. Coastal communities will be inundated even those that do not usually experience floods. Heat waves may occur. While some parts of the country may experience droughts, other parts will receive excess rainfall. The greatest impact is on food production.”
Preparedness as a Personal Responsibility
It’s the second year we, Filipinos, find ourselves grappling with both the typhoon season and the COVID-19 pandemic. While this makes the management of evacuation centers challenging, Pagulayan stresses the importance of being pro-active when it comes to preparedness. “Let’s not rely solely on the government for our safety. Let’s ask ourselves what we an contribute.” She gives the following tips:
- Coordinate and work with your community’s disaster manager. Your community’s topography and needs are unique. You, your fellow-residents and barangay leaders can best map out a preparedness plan for your community.
- While staying alert to advisories released by your community’s disaster office, it’s also advisable to read updates from national agencies. Read the reports and listen to expert interviews. The additional knowledge boosts your preparedness by helping you form a bigger picture of possible scenarios.
- If you need to evacuate, always remember to bring a Go Bag. “This includes everything you need for the first 6 hours in the evacuation center,” says Pagulayan. Keeping yourself safe as an individual is a form of community service.
Last October 2, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) released a La Niña Advisory, announcing the onset of above-normal rainfall conditions in the country.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), La Niña is a “cold event” that pertains to “below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific.” Analiza Solis, chief of PAGASA’s Climate Impact Monitoring and Prediction Section stated that the weak habagat (southwest monsoon) experienced from June to September this year was indicative of an impending La Niña. “Historically, below-normal rainfall conditions in areas under the Type 1 Climate (western parts of Luzon, Mindoro, Negros and Palawan) during the habagat season is a precursor or part of the early impacts of La Niña.”
Though “weak and moderate La Niña” is expected to persist until March 2021, PAGASA Administrator Dr. Vicente Malano warned to never underestimate its possible effects. “In 2006, Guinsaugon in Leyte experienced a massive landslide. It caused considerable damage in properties and deaths.” The disaster was believed to be triggered by an earthquake in Southern Leyte, and two weeks of non-stop rains induced by weak La Niña. The landslide buried around 980 of the village’s population of 1,857.
What to expect
The approaching amihan (northeast monsoon) is expected to enhance La Niña. Solis explained that the rainfall forecast for October this year until the first quarter of 2021 is 81 to 120% more than the normal. Areas most likely to be affected are MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan), Visayas and Mindanao. Because of the 2006 landslide, PAGASA is also closely monitoring western Luzon, even if it is normally dry during La Niña. “Day-to-day forecasts are crucial, supported by tropical cyclone warnings and sub-seasonal forecasts, so we can prepare for possible extreme weather and rainfall events,” Solis said, adding that this La Niña, five to eight cyclones are expected until March 2021.
Preparing for Possible Outcomes
According to Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr., the undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate, various agencies should focus on Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM). “First, we need to monitor the different weather and climate phenomena, which PAGASA is doing. Second is assessing hazards and risks, which involves identifying the risks, their effects and the affected areas. Third is disseminating information and warnings to different sectors through proper communication channels. And fourth—the most important of all—is to have an effective and efficient response.” This includes mitigation measures, their effectivity, and a quick response that will lead to quick recovery.
Impact on Agriculture
Solis stated that during La Niña, low-lying agricultural lands are prone to floods, which may produce extensive crop damage. Recurring rains also increase the possibility of pests and crop disease, and may lead to river flooding and dam spillage.
Impact on Health
During excessive rainfall, there is a prevalence of waterborne diseases such as cholera and leptospirosis in flooded areas—things we need to avoid, along with loss of lives from flashfloods.
Impact on Environment
Landslides and mudslides are possible, while coastal communities are warned against coastal erosions due to strong waves. In the urban setting, damage to infrastructures is possible, as well as urban flooding, economic losses, and increased traffic.
Angat Dam located in Bulacan (file photo)
Filling our Dams
The water level in Angat Dam, which supplies 97% of Metro Manila’s water needs, has been slowly but continuously decreasing. “These past weeks, we’ve seen a decline in Angat, Pantabangan and other dams. Even if it rains in these areas, they don’t hit our reservoirs,” Dr. Malano reported. But because of the rainfall forecast during La Niña , our dams are expected to recover. Weather Services Chief Roy Badilla of PAGASA’s Hydrometeorology Division stressed this benefit of La Niña: “50% of our rainfall come from tropical cyclones and La Niña, so without the La Niña, our dams won’t have enough water.”
Solis encouraged the public to maximize rain water harvesting and storage to cope with the dry season from April to June. Flood warnings and advisories from PAGASA should also be monitored. To avoid floods, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is requested to remove road obstructions. As local government units and disaster risk reduction offices prepare for imminent disasters, farmers need to strengthen their post-harvest facilities to ensure the proper drying and storage of their produce. “Adverse impacts are likely over the vulnerable areas and sectors of the country,” Solis added. “While our dams have their fill of rain, we should mitigate the possible impacts of La Niña and the amihan.”
La Niña and the Pandemic
Though La Niña is a natural climate variability, Solis said that climate change might also be affecting its pattern. “Before the year 2000, strong El Niño and La Niña episodes occur at least every 7 to 10 years. But during the past decades, the intervals have been cut down to 5 to 7 years. Along with their increased frequency is the increased intensity of their impacts.”
Because this year’s La Niña is coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, PAGASA’s OIC-Deputy Administrator for Research and Development Esperanza Cayanan emphasized the need for preparedness in evacuation centers. “We need to enforce physical distancing among evacuees, and make sure that these centers are not used for COVID-19 patients.” Solis mentioned the same concern for hospitals. “Health care centers and hospitals should prepare for additional patients with water-borne diseases, and to separate them from COVID-19 patients.”
In the meantime, Dr. Malano suggested the use of schools and churches, now empty because of the prohibition of mass gatherings and face-to-face classes. “Disaster risk reduction should be everyone’s responsibility. We need to cooperate with each other so we can open up these facilities for evacuees, allowing them to observe physical distancing.”
For the past weeks, the water level in Angat Dam, which supplies 97% of Metro Manila’s water needs, has been slowly but continuously decreasing. According to the Climate Outlook Forum of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) last September 23, the dam’s level was at 177.3 meters, 32.67 meters less than its normal water level of 210 meters.
But according to Rosalie Pagulayan of the Hydro-Meteorological Division of PAGASA, historical data in the past 14 years shows that Angat Dam’s water level typically dips during this time.
Angat Dam’s current downward trend in light blue (graph from PAGASA)
“Its level continues to decrease, but we expect it to increase during the Northeast Monsoon. Even with no typhoons, we can expect Angat Dam to recover in the last quarter of the year,” says Pagulayan. This is based on the forecast rainfall of PAGASA’s Climatology and Agrometeorology Division, which shows an expected 386 millimeters in October, 294 millimeters in November and 129.5 millimeters in December.
Forecast Rainfall for the remainder of 2020
Metro Manila’s Main Water Source
The Angat Reservoir and Dam is located in the Angat Watershed Forest Reserve in Norzagaray, Bulacan. According to Manila Water, the dam supplies the water requirements of Metro Manila, and irrigates about 31,000 hectares of farmlands in Pampanga and Bulacan. It also generates hydroelectric power for the Luzon Grid, and holds water to reduce flooding in downstream towns and villages.
Top photo of Angat Dam taken last April 13, 2010 when water levels hit the critical 180 meters above sea level. Photo at the bottom with the structure completely exposed, was taken last July 16, 201, when levels reached a historical low of 157.55 meters. (Top photo by Joseph Agcaoili /Greenpeace. Bottom photo by Gigie Cruz-Sy /Greenpeace)
The dam usually stores enough water for Metro Manila’s 30-day supply. But El Niño, which refers to the unusual warming the oceans giving way to higher temperatures, can affect dam levels. On July 18, 2010, Angat Dam decreased to its all-time lowest level of 157.55 meters, the difference from its normal level roughly equivalent to the height of an 18-storey building. Because of El Niño, rain was below-normal, drying up the rivers that led to Angat Dam. Irrigation in Bulacan and Pampanga was cut to give way to the water needs of Metro Manila, which still experienced service interruptions. The government distributed relief goods among farmers and their families because they were unable to harvest.
Last year’s El Niño brought the Angat Dam down to 159.43 meters, just 2 meters more than its lowest record in 2010, prompting the National Water Resources Board to further reduce the allocation for Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services. Over 6 million residents of Metro Manila, Rizal and Cavite experienced daily rotational water interruptions from six hours to as much as 21 hours. Because of this, hospital operations and businesses were affected with some restaurants, carwashes and laundry shops closing temporarily.
Residents waiting by the roadside for fire engines to fill up their water containers in 2019
Why We and our Dams are in Danger
According to the World Population Review, Manila is now the most densely-populated city in the world with over 42,000 residents per square meter. Data from the Philippine Statistical Authority shows that over 21.3 million people live Metro Manila.
Overpopulation created a spike in water demand, especially during the sweltering El Niño season of 2019, one of the reasons a Manila Water representative pointed out as the cause of reduced water levels in dams. But the water crisis is a global one, which the Union of Concerned Scientists in the U.S. also attributes to climate change. Global warming alters the water cycle, affecting the “amount, distribution, timing and quality of available water.” While a warmer climate speeds up the evaporation of water on land and in oceans, it also holds more water that can be released through devastating typhoons, causing massive floods.
The Philippines’ water crisis also extends to limited access to water and sanitation outside the metropolis. The World Health Organization states that out of the 105 million living in the Philippines, around 7 million depend on water sources that are unsafe and unsustainable. In fact, one of the country’s leading causes of death in 2016 was acute diarrhea, causing over 139,000 fatalities.
An unreliable water supply severely affects public health, pushing people to look for other drinking water sources that may be unsafe. Basic hygiene—a must during this pandemic—is also compromised as one needs to thoroughly wash themselves, their clothes and their food to prevent infections from COVID-19 and other illnesses. When water pressure in pipes are low because of scarce supply, elements can contaminate the water once the pressure is restored.
Before Manila Water implemented rotational service interruptions in October last year, Metro Manila residents went on panic mode and stored water ahead of time. The move lowered water pressure, limiting its flow and distribution toward high places. WHO also cautions against the improper storing of water as this can allow mosquitoes to breed, possibly increasing the risk of diseases such as dengue fever.
Solving the Water Crisis
While individuals are responsible for their own health and safety by making sure their drinking water is safe and free from contamination, WHO states that the government also needs to provide long-term solutions. Groundwater and surface water from rivers and lakes will not last long when exacerbated by climate change and a growing population.
“Strategies such as the application of improved rainwater collection systems and state-of the-art desalination technologies coupled with renewable energies can be used in the Philippines,” says Environmental health technical officer in WHO Philippines Engineer Bonifacio Magtibay on the WHO website. “By adopting innovative and long-term solutions, the Philippines can ensure water for all that will protect the peoples’ health and help drive sustainable development forward.”
Pagulayan also reiterates that though PAGASA expects Angat Dam to recover, residents must not be complacent. “We have always called for the responsible use of water. This is a very important commodity because we use it for almost all our activities. Even if we’re not experiencing El Niño or other weather systems, we should always be looking at how we can maximize our resources. Let’s not waste water.”
For more tips on conserving water, watch this.
For more details on the Angat Dam, watch Panahon TV’s report.
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.
New studies from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) researchers showed that climate change does not only affect the severity or amount of rain but also the precipitation patterns.
According to Al Gore, the founder of the Climate Reality Project, since warmer air holds more moisture, rising global temperatures also contribute to the changes in rain patterns, including rain’s occurrence, duration and distribution. Gore also stated that global water vapor increases by 7% for every degree centigrade of warming.
Climate change can affect two types of rain – stratiform and convective. Convective rain, which occurs more frequently, is sudden, intense and local. Meanwhile, the stratiform type is lighter and can fall over a larger area for a longer time.
Isotopes as clues
In June 2016, hydrology specialist Pradeep Aggarwal and his co-authors announced that the oxygen and hydrogen isotopes in rain samples provided data on the ratio of these two rain types.
Isotopes are atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons that result to different atomic weights. The condensation and evaporation of water affect the ratio of heavy to light isotopes.
Observing and understanding how the water cycle responds to climate change is difficult and critical. These findings could also contribute to a better understanding of how climate change affects rainfall patterns, which could later help in adaptation and precipitation models in the future.
Rainfall and Climate Change
As temperatures rise, air becomes warmer. Hence, more moisture evaporates from land and water into the atmosphere. More moisture in the air means more precipitation and heavy downpour.
The problem is that extra rain is not evenly distributed throughout the globe. Because of the shifting air and ocean currents brought by climate change, some countries may receive more or less precipitation than others. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the world is already getting more rain and snow than it did a century ago.
Looming La Niña
PAGASA and other international meteorological agencies confirmed a 55 to 60% probability of La Niña development in the last quarter of 2016. La Niña is the unusual cooling of ocean temperatures in the Central and Eastern Equatorial Pacific.
Because of this weather phenomenon, more active rainfall activity is expected in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. PAGASA said that after the sweltering dry months, we are now anticipating slightly cooler and wetter months ahead.
Rising temperatures triggered by climate change and the previous El Niño episode may begin to decelerate due to La Niña. According to the University of New South Wale’s Climate Change Research Center, a rise in global temperatures may still occur, but it won’t be as rapid as what had been observed last year.
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:
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.