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Philippine-wide alert as El Niño sears North Luzon, Cotabato

Weathermen have alerted residents of many areas in this archipelago republic—particularly in Northern Luzon and in Mindanao—on the effects of El Niño, with summer charging in this month. 

READ: El Niño impact heats up early, drought in 22 provinces seen​

Philippine-wide alert as El Niño sears North Luzon, Cotabato
WRITING ON THE WALL. An unidentified farm hand looks forlorn while footslogging through his parched terraced land in the countryside during the weekend, with weathermen forewarning residents in many provinces in Luzon and Mindanao that 2019 may be the hottest year yet, spurred by El Niño and climate change, with temperature projected to hit over 40 degrees C, or 104 plus degrees F.
In  North Cotabato, for instance, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the dry spell prevailing over the province has thus far damaged P477 million worth of agricultural crops.

El Niño, a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, is the “warm phase” of a larger phenomenon called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation or ENSO, with such events occurring irregularly at two- to seven-year intervals. 

Climate analysts and weather forecasters say 2019 may be the hottest year yet, spurred by El Niño and climate change.

Experts say that in normal, non-El Niño conditions, trade winds blow in a westerly direction along the equator, with these winds piling up warm surface water in the western Pacific, so the sea surface is as much as 18 inches higher in the western Pacific than in the eastern Pacific. 

El Niño is an abnormal weather pattern caused by the warming of the Pacific Ocean near the equator, off the coast of South America. 

Experts add the sun warms the water near the equator, which can make more clouds and, therefore, more rain. However, normally there are trade winds, which blow that warm water west. 

According to Climate Information monitoring section chief Analiza Solis, in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB beamed nationwide, there was a possibility the Philippines could get a tempertature as high or more thab 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit in many areas of Northern Luzon, particularly Tuguegarao in Cagayan.

But weathermen said they would monitor the so-called “human comfort index” since high humidity could worsen the heat felt by people.

In simplest terms, the heat index is the “feels-like” temperature, or how hot it really feels when the relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature.

According to experts, a human body cools itself by the evaporation of perspiration from the skin. On a hot, humid day, less evaporation of sweat occurs, diminishing the body’s ability to cool itself.

Solis said some 10 provinces, six in Luzon and four in Mindanao, might experience drought or dry spell as the phenomenon would mean lesser rainfall.

North Cotabato’s PDRRMC warning and action officer Arnulfo Villaruz also placed the number of farmers affected by the drought-spawned El Niño phenomenon at 8,500, based on data provided by municipal disaster offices in the province.

The province has experienced less amount of rainfall since early February.

Due to extreme weather condition, the towns of M’lang, Aleosan, Alamada, and Pikit have declared a state of calamity, prompting the local government units to use their respective calamity funds to aid affected farmers in cushioning the impact of the dry spell.

READ: Agriculture prepares to cushion El Niño

“The number of affected farmers and amount of crop damage could still go up when all reports are forwarded to our office,” Villaluz said over the Church-run dxND radio station in Cotabato City.

He said North Cotabato was not included in the list of provinces that would be hit by the extreme weather condition, “but nevertheless, farms were dried up, damaging crops in the process.” 

READ: La Mesa Dam level at 12-year low

READ: El Niño threatens food security, senator warns

READ: NGCP declares ‘yellow alert’ over tight supply in Luzon

Topics: El Niño , Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council , El Niño-Southern Oscillation
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