Pagasa: ‘El Niño’ not in sight yet

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014


IT’S too early to tell if the El Niño phenomenon will hit the Philippines as summer is slowly being felt throughout the country, an official of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Tuesday.

Daisy Ortega, assistant weather services chief at the Pagasa weather station at Barangay Molugan in El Salvador City, said they could not yet determine if El Niño will develop soon, contrary to a media reports that it will arrive in the middle of this year.

The news report, published in the GMA Network website last Saturday, March 15, said the El Niño is expected to hit in mid2014, as it quoted a certain Roy Alimoane, director of the Davao-based Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center, as saying the country is “ripe for another long drought.”

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It also quoted a statement from the US weather forecast agency Climatic Prediction Center saying that there is “a 50 percent chance of the weather pattern (El Niño) developing during the summer or autumn.”

Summer in the U.S. starts on the later part of June and ends on the later part of September.

According to the U.S. government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, elnino.noaa.gov), El Niño is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, as opposed to La Niña, which is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific.

Furthermore, El Niño is an oscillation or cycle of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific having important consequences for weather around the globe, NOAA said.

A long drought, which affects agricultural production, is one of the consequences of El Niño, which moves in a cycle of three to five years.

But Ortega said at present there is no indication of El Niño yet as they have not detected the indicators that would confirm the weather phenomenon’s presence in the country.

She said Pagasa could only announce of the arrival of El Niño based on changes in the wind, sea temperature and sea level pressure.

Presently, the temperature under the Pacific Ocean remains cool, a sure sign that El Niño has not yet developed, she added.

‘Enso neutral’

“So far, we are still in the ‘Enso neutral’ condition. But we are closely monitoring the patterns,” Ortega told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Tuesday noon.

Enso stands for “El Niño southern oscillation,” a clear indication that there is no El Niño yet.

“There is a probability (of El Niño hitting the country) but until May neutral tayo,” she added.

Ortega said come July, there is 50-50 probability of El Niño ever developing.

Dry spell

The country may be experiencing dry spell in the next couple of weeks but Ortega said this should not be associated with El Niño.

“A dry spell doesn’t mean that it’s an El Niño,” she said.

She added that if the indicators are not detected then Pagasa couldn’t declare that there is an El Niño.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 19, 2014.

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