The government is alerting the public in nearly half of the country to prepare for the effects of a four-month dry spell later this year, as the state weather agency forecasts an intensified El Nino phenomenon.
"Thirty-two provinces will likely be affected by the dry spell from August to November 2015," Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) reported in its second semester outlook for the country.
Pagasa identified the provinces as Isabela, Aurora, Batangas, Cavite, Rizal, Quezon, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon, all in Luzon;
Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental all in Western Visayas (Region VI);
Bohol, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, all in Central Visayas (Region VII);
Southern Leyte in Eastern Visayas (Region VIII);
and in Mindanao provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Southern Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Basilan, Maguindanao, and Sulu.
What is a dry spell?
Pagasa defines dry spell as three consecutive months of below-normal rainfall.
Areas under the dry spell receive precipitation that's 21 percent to 60 percent less than average rainfall there, warned Pagasa.
According to experts, El Nino is a naturally occurring condition characterized by warmer-than-average waters in eastern equatorial Pacific.
From weak to moderate
Pagasa expects the dry condition to intensify El Nino from "weak" at present to "moderate" by August this year.
El Nino may persist until December 2015 then gradually weaken in early 2016, Pagasa also said.
"Such El Nino may likely terminate by May 2016," Pagasa said.
As of May 27 this year, data from Pagasa show that of the 32 provinces at risk for the four-month dry spell, several are already affected by drought amidst El Nino.
Eight of those provinces are already affected by the dry spell, Pagasa also said.
The drought-affected provinces are Albay, Batangas, Cavite, Masbate, and Sorsogon in Luzon; Bohol, Negros Oriental, , and Southern Leyte in the Visayas as well as Basilan, Maguindanao, Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sulu in Mindanao.
Pagasa defines drought as three consecutive months of way-below normal rainfall condition.
Luzon's Quezon, Rizal, and Romblon provinces, the Visayas' Capiz, Guimaras, and Negros Occidental provinces, and Mindanao's Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur provinces are already under the dry spell, Pagasa data also showed.
11 to 16 cyclones
Despite the prevailing El Nino, Pagasa expects an average 11 to 16 tropical cyclones (TCs) to either enter or develop in the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) during the June-December 2015 period.
Pagasa previously pointed out that El Nino episodes could alter TCs landfall patterns.
Lower-than-average number of landfalls could be expected in the Philippines during El Nino as TCs then tend to head northwards instead of crossing the country which these generally do under normal conditions, Pagasa weather forecaster Fernando Cada said earlier.
Lesser TC landfalls mean the Philippine landmass won't generally experience as much rain as it would during a non-El Nino year, he said. # ADAPTED, Philippines News Agency