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ON top of our annual weather changes in the Philippines, the worldwide dual phenomena of El Niño and La Niña are now affecting the country, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Thursday.
El Niño, the heating up of the equatorial Pacific, has been blamed for the drought in many parts of the Philippines for several months now. The drought destroyed rice and other crops in 28 provinces in the country, while 23 other provinces experienced a less severe dry spell.
This month of May, the El Niño has begun to weaken, PAGASA said, with neutral conditions expected by the middle of the year. Then, in the second half of 2016, the sea temperature in equatorial Pacific is expected to drop, and the cooler-than-average air will spawn storms and rains in many areas. From the drought of the past few months, we must now prepare for storms and rains, PAGASA said.
There will be other complications in the weather – inter-tropical convergence zones, low-pressure areas, tropical cyclones, and typhoons. With La Niña, these usual stormy weather conditions will be heightened, the weather bureau warned.
We welcome the afternoon rains that are beginning to fall in various parts of the country this May. But in our relief at the showers of blessing that are heralding the end of the heat and the drought, we must not ignore the implied warning in PAGASA’s assessment of the changing weather worldwide.
The La Niña of 2008 caused heavy rains to fall on Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The La Niña of 2010-2011 caused floods in Queensland, Australia, blizzards in North America, tornadoes of above-average severity in the US South and Midwest, and seven consecutive days of non-stop rains in California.
The PAGASA warns that it may not be the usual rainy season in the Philippines in the coming months. It will be a La Niña season, for which local governments must now start preparing by checking on their anti-flood programs. For the people, it’s not too early to start checking for possible roof repairs, readying emergency kits, and drawing up possible escape routes in case of a sudden flood.
PAGASA has given us due warning. Let us all heed it.