By Divina Nova Joy Dela Cruz
THE STATE weather bureau expects 51 provinces to experience drought by the end of April, as the country suffers from the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.
Just days after declaring an earlier-than-usual start of the dry season, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) warned that some areas under a dry spell could transition to drought by next month.
“The dry spell may prolong and continue in the next coming months,” said Analiza Solis, chief of Climate Information Monitoring and Prediction of Pagasa.
Sixteen provinces are already experiencing drought, 55 are under a dry spell, and 12 have dry conditions.
In February, Pagasa said it expected 10 provinces to experience drought, 41 to fall under a dry spell and 21 under dry conditions by the end of March.
Pagasa classifies a province under drought if it had experienced three consecutive months of way below normal or five consecutive months of below normal rainfall. A dry spell is declared if a province has experienced three consecutive months of below normal or two consecutive months of way below normal rainfall. Dry conditions mean two consecutive months of below normal rainfall.
Pagasa’s latest forecast indicate that 61 percent of the country was likely to experience meteorological drought by the end of April, higher than the proportion of 6 percent recorded in February and 19 percent in March.
A dry spell was expected to hit 39 percent of the country by the end of April, from 13 percent in February and 66 percent in March.
In Luzon, areas that might be declared under drought by the end of April are Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon.
In the Visayas, these are Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar and Western Samar.
In Mindanao, these are Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, South Cotabato, Sulatan Kudarat, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Provinces expected to experience a dry spell by the end of April are Ifugao, Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Aurora, Batangas, Rizal, Bohol, Cebu, Southern Leyte, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao Del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Basilan and Lanao del Sur.
Pagasa’s Solis said rains were expected by May, easing the effects of El Niño and lowering the number of provinces under drought and dry spell.
“Rains are expected to increase by May even when there’s drought,” Solis said.
By the end of May, Pagasa expects drought areas to decline to 37 percent and dry spell areas to drop to 4 percent of the whole country. (The Manila Times)