PAGASA: El Niño weakens but La Niña looms in June

The current El Niño phenomenon characterized by extreme weather conditions (above average) has started to weaken as it gradually transitions to neutral conditions in April-May-June 2024, according to Rodel Inclan, officer-in-charge of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Zamboanga City Station.

However, Inclan said there is a 55% likelihood for La Niña to develop during the June-July-August season this year.
La Niña is characterized by unusually cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. It triggers above normal rainfall in the Philippines.

Inclan told reporters in City Hall Tuesday, March 12, that the current El Niño phenomenon started to develop during the 2 nd to 3 rd quarter in 2023 when most part of the country was experiencing below normal amount of rainfall.

“It was also the time of habagat season or rainy season. Thus, despite the El Niño the rainfall persisted last year,” Inclan said, stressing that by January 2024 the weather phenomenon started to gain strength and by February-March it hit the record of being one of the strongest weather events to hit the country.

Reports have indicated that the El Niño has triggered  drought  in at least 25 areas, a dry spell in 16 areas, and dry conditions in 10 areas as of February 29.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has estimated around P357.4 million worth of damage and losses to farms in the Ilocos Region, Mimaropa, Western Visayas, and Zamboanga Peninsula.

Nevertheless, Inclan painted a ray of hope for drought-stricken areas, saying that rainfall can still be possible amid El Niño. “Even though we have El Niño, it does not mean we won’t have cyclones. In fact, cyclones during this period could even be stronger that can reach a super typhoon category,” he said.

According to him, the country usually experiences an average of 20 tropical cyclones every year, but last year there were only 11 cyclones, three of which had reached the super typhoon category.-(Vic Larato)