It has been a rainy week in several parts of the country due to another rain-producing system passing through the Philippine Area of Responsibility. Declared as a Tropical Storm, Falcon moved across the country, and Northern and Central Luzon were significantly affected by heavy to extreme rains, although no damaging winds were recorded.
El Niño Update
Despite the rains and the announcement that we are now entering a Neutral Climate, the effects of the previously announced Weak El Niño still remains in effect. The official Climate Prediction Center/International Research Institute Probabilistic El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Forecast released in July 11 stated that we are now moving to a Neutral Climate. The Weak El Niño recorded a steady drop to 49% in July, and is expected to decrease further at 37% to 30% in the succeeding three-month period, transitioning to Neutral or Normal Climate. What this means is that despite the arrival of the rainy season a few weeks ago for provinces under Climate Type I, there will still be a significant reduction on rainfall distribution in other parts of the archipelago for a few months.
Based on studies, the Philippines is divided into four climatic types, depending on how rainfall is distributed throughout the year:
- Type I – Two pronounced seasons: wet and dry, with maximum rain period from June to September and a dry season which lasts from 3 to 6 months;
- Type II – No dry season, with a very pronounced maximum rain period that occurs in December and January;
- Type III – Not very pronounced maximum rain period, with a short dry season lasting from 1 to 3 months;
- Type IV – Rainfall more or less distributed throughout the year
Counting the cost of El Niño
As El Niño’s impact increases on various sectors of the society, the reality is it could affect food security and water supply.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Situation Report No. 21 issued on 21 June 2019, there were about 247,610 farmers adversely impacted by the drought and dry spell conditions in Regions I, V, VI, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, Caraga, and the Cordillera Autonomous Region covering about 277,891 hectares of arable lands. The cost of damage to agriculture was placed at nearly P8 million and total of 49 local government units (LGUs) have already declared states of calamity.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has since provided crop insurance assistance to about 87,231 farmers and fisherfolk affected by the drought, to the tune of P695 million through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, while the Department of Social Welfare and Development allotted P8.7 million, the LGUs turning over P966 million, and the Office of Civil Defense handing over nearly P300,000 worth of assistance to affected families.
With the recorded damage to date and the projected impact of El Niño in the coming months, the government is doing its best to assist communities through artificially-induced rain or cloud seeding operations.
Cloud seeding ops
The Bureaus of Soils and Water Management (BWSM) in Regions II, III, IV-A, XI, XII and the National Capital Region have conducted about 156 sorties beginning March 24 to June 6 to artificially induce rainfall, of which seven sorties were accomplished by the Philippine Air Force. They will remain on standby for the possible conduct of cloud seeding operations in close coordination with the BSWM in Region II. The total cost of conducting cloud seeding operations stands at P18.3 million according to the DA.
Meanwhile, just recently, the National Water Resource Board (NWRB) implemented the reduction of water allocation from Angat Dam for Municipal Water Supply and Irrigation in the province of Bulacan and parts of Pampanga. The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System has also started to reduce water pressure to its water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water from 16 pounds-force per square inch (psi) to 7 psi – adversely affecting millions of consumers in their service areas around Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. Water conservation measures have to be practiced virtually everyday by everyone. This crisis is not yet over, and it has the potential to complicate matters well into the first quarter of 2020 if not addressed properly.
What does this tell us? Aside from the constant reminder to conserve water, given the current weak El Niño conditions announced last month, WeatherPhilippines advises everyone to continue being #WeatherWiser. This means that we can all improve our practices by being more aware of day-to-day weather conditions and incorporating this knowledge in our decision-making processes.
Interested about being #WeatherWiser? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–By Adonis S. Manzan
Typhoon Specialist, WeatherPhilippines Foundation, Inc.