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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

El Niño’s threat

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Should we be afraid of the threat posed by the El Niño weather phenomenon?

Not at all, because the government is already preparing to deal with its adverse impact.

Here’s what will happen: El Niño or the unusual warming of the ocean surface in the central and eastern tropical Pacific, could trigger disruptions in local weather patterns.

During El Niño, winds blowing west along the equator slow down, and warm water is pushed east, creating warmer surface ocean temperatures.aa

The phenomenon occurs on average every two to seven years, and can last nine to 12 months, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

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Earlier this month, state meteorologists officially declared the onset of El Niño.

This came after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) observed that in the past three months there has been an ongoing El Niño in the tropical Pacific, and its effects starting to be felt in the country.

It is likely to persist until the first quarter of 2024.

According to the weather agency, El Niño increases the prospect of below-normal rainfall conditions that could bring negative impacts such as “dry spells” (periods of dry days) or droughts in some parts of the Philippines.

But between now and December, Pagasa expects at least 10 to 14 tropical cyclones to affect the country.

The agency has urged the public to brace primarily for lesser rains during El Niño, which could impact the country’s water supply and affect areas that are dependent on hydrological energy.

Higher temperatures and extreme weather events are also more likely during this period, which could escalate risk of infectious diseases, floods, and droughts.

AdvaBased on five occurrences of “severe” El Niño since the 1990s, rice production in the Philippines was one of the worst-hit in Asia whenever the climate phenomenon hits overdrive.

Severe El Niños were recorded in 1991 to 1992, 2002 to 2003, 2003 to 2004, 2009 to 2010 and 2015 to 2016.

The most recent severe El Niño was considered as one of the worst in recorded history and, during that time, rice production in the Philippines was 10 percent below the average annual output.

The Water Resources Management Office will soon issue its recommendations to address the effects of the El Niño phenomenon in the country.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is also preparing a plan to make public what needs to be done, according to President Marcos Jr.

Other agencies involved in the mitigation of the expected effects of El Niño are the Public Works and Agriculture departments.

The country faces the risk of reduced agricultural output and hampered business operations from the double whammy of dry conditions and more typhoons from El Niño.

But economists believe the Philippines can still maintain their growth forecast of 6.2 percent in 2023 and 6.5 percent in 2024.

If the numbers are unchanged from the forecast made last April, then we can very well overcome the weather phenomenon’s ill-effects.

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