Less rainfall until May expected due to El Niño – PAGASA

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PAGASA expects that this ongoing El Niño will be among the strongest, if not the strongest.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 20) —  Less rainfall and warmer temperatures are expected in the next few months due to a developing El Niño or dry spell, weather officials said.

In its update Wednesday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said a "weak" El Niño has established in the country. This means that this will soon become a "full blown" El Niño or an "El Niño event." 

PAGASA said it has not noted a specific pattern for the effects of a weak El Niño. However, it expected the El Niño to complete its cycle and become stronger in March.

This means in the coming months, some areas will experience a "meteorological drought" which implicates two possible scenarios — two months of 60 percent less rainfall than its average amount, or five consecutive months of 40 percent less rainfall.

This will be experienced in April, particularly in Samar, Leyte and Biliran. At the end of May, which is the onset of the rainy season, there will generally be less rainfall in the country. The drought may particularly affect hydropower dependent sectors and rainfed farmers, PAGASA said.

Some areas will also experience warmer temperatures. The highest expected temperature is expected in northern Luzon sometime in May at 40.7 degrees celsius.

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However, PAGASA clarified that rains and storms are still possible but the amount of rainfall will be less, and there will be stronger winds instead of heavy rains during storms. Normal amount of rainfall will return in June, while above average rainfall is expected in July.

Weather officials explained that a strong El Niño or an "El Niño event" occurs when the surface temperature of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific is at least .5 degrees Celsius higher than normal for consecutive five months. Surface sea temperatures have increased since October 2018, PAGASA noted.