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Fewer tropical storms this year

The Philippines is expected to have fewer tropical cyclones this year due to the lingering effect of the El Niño phenomenon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration said yesterday.

PAGASA Assistant Weather Services Chief Anthony Lucero said the country is expecting eight to 14 tropical cyclones from July to November – one to three in July, two to four in August, two to four in September, two to four in October, and one to three in November.

During the first half of 2016, PAGASA did not see the formation or entry of a tropical cyclone inside country’s area of responsibility.

“We will possibly have fewer tropical cyclones this year,” Lucero said. “As of now, we are still feeling the impact of El Niño. This is proven by the expected number of tropical cyclones until the end of the year. Just imagine, it is already mid-June but we still don’t have a tropical cyclone,” he added.

“This has also happened in the past, especially during a very strong El Niño event. This is also true during its decaying phase,” he also said.

Lucero pointed out that what the country is experiencing is “not unusual.” “We are experiencing right now a similar pattern in the past. During the decaying phase of El Niño event, there are fewer tropical cyclones especially in the first half of the year,” he said.

“Assuming that we have 14 tropical cyclones at the most at the end of November, plus one or two tropical cyclones by December, that is only a total of 15 or 16 cyclones. That means we are below the normal number of tropical cyclones annually,” he explained.

However, Lucero noted that with 90 percent certainty, the El Niño condition will shift to neutral condition, which is neither El Niño nor La Niña, by end of July.

By September, he said the probability of a La Niña occurrence will be “very high” come September.

“In the beginning we could estimate that it would be a weak La Niña,” Lucero said. “Most likely by the end of the year, we can already feel the impact of La Niña, which may extend until the first half of 2017,” he added.

He said La Niña episode may likely occur during the periods November-January or December-February.

“We expect more rains on the eastern side of the country, which are areas more vulnerable to La Niña,” he added.

These areas are Isabela, Quirino, Quezon, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Masbate, Samar, Leyte, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, and Compostela Valley.

“Most of these provinces have their peak of rainy season during December and January. Because of the La Niña, it will enhance their rainy condition,” Lucero explained. (Ellalyn B. de Vera)