THE “significant impact” of El Niño will be felt on the last quarter of 2023 until the first quarter of 2024, an official of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Tuesday, July 18, 2023.
Engr. Al Quiblat, chief of Pagasa-Mactan Bureau, said in a news forum Tuesday that the “significant” effect of El Niño is expected to start in October this year.
"El Niño is already here but the significant impact of El Niño starts at the last quarter of this year, October, until the first quarter of next year," he said, adding that the phenomenon has 50 to 56 percent chance of developing into a stronger one.
"We are now facing the weak El Niño but there is a 50 to 56 percent chance of becoming a strong El Niño," he said.
He said the frequency of El Niño has increased due to climate change.
"Ang frequency sa El Niño nagkadaghan. Sa una, mga 10-15 years, karon ang naresult for a study is three to seven months," he said.
(The frequency of El Niño has increased. Before, it was only 10-15 years but now, a study says it’s three to seven months.)
He also stressed its possible effects, which include less monsoon activity in the southwest and northeast monsoons, less tropical cyclones entering the Philippine area of responsibility, and delayed onset of the rainy season, which normally starts in June.
Amid this weather phenomenon, the Cebu City Government has laid out some interventions and actions to help the local farmers preserve and produce food despite the El Niño.
Cebu City has over 12,000 identified and registered farmers.
City Agriculturist Engr. Joelito Baclayon said land irrigation support has been given by the City Government to help farmers supplement ample amounts of water for continuous production of crops and livestock.
Also, half of the city’s 16,000 hectares of land has been allotted for residential development and other infrastructure, while the city is planning to distribute the vacant lands to farmers to be used for production.
"We also identified areas nga posible nga anha nato ibutang ang atoang gitawag nga production area wherein we can put in all the input assistance of each farmer to produce something, to cope up perhaps sa demand," Baclayon said.
(We also identified areas where we can possibly locate added areas for production wherein we can put in all the input assistance of each farmer to produce something, to cope up perhaps with demand.)
Advanced planting techniques are also being taught to farmers, such as hydroponics, which uses water-based solutions in growing crops, and aeroponics, which uses air-based solutions.
Baclayon said early maturing and heat resistant seeds such as corn, lettuce, and other common vegetables have been recommended to be planted during hot temperatures to sustain food needs.
"With that, ato na na identify ang mga production area, and the farmers that will produce, then we can somehow assure nga even naa tay taas-taas nga El Niño... naa gyud ta'y production," he said.
(With that, after identifying the production area, and the farmers that will produce, then we can somehow assure that even with the significant impact of El Niño, production can continue.)
In line with the preparations for El Niño, Quiblat encouraged the public to practice rain harvesting.
"Samtang naa tay mga pag-ulan, practice og implement og rain harvesting para magpundo na tag tubig sa umaabot nga last quarter until the first quarter of next year for the impact of El Niño in the Philippines," he said.
(While there is rain, practice implementing rain harvesting to conserve water for this year's last quarter until next year's first quarter for the impact of El Niño in the Philippines.)
He also said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has implemented measures to exercise and promote the conservation of water.
"DENR is monitoring the water consumption of every agency or offices of the government, a sort of monitoring to make them aware of and implement conservation measures," he said.
Farmers have also been encouraged to conserve water through biomass mulching, which mechanically shreds organic materials that will keep the soil from drying, Baclayon added.
Baclayon proposed an additional P80 million to the El Niño Mitigation Plan to assist all barangays in Cebu to mobilize the mentioned necessary interventions.
He said such plans only reflected what the farmers need, especially during El Niño when production is a challenge.
"The plan actually comes from the farmers gyud and then mao ni ang gibuhatan ug budgetary requirements," Baclayon said.
(The plan actually comes from the farmers themselves and then we made budgetary requirements.)
According to Quiblat, when Pagasa issues a yellow alert, the local government units (LGUs) can decide whether to suspend the classes or not.
However, if it is a red or orange rainfall warning, classes should automatically be suspended.
Quiblat said the yellow warning indicates heavy rain of 7.5 millimeters (mm) to 15 mm and flooding is possible; orange alert indicates 15 mm to 30 mm of rain where flooding is threatening; and red warning indicates more than 30 mm of heavy rain that may result in serious flooding in some areas.
He urged the public to rely on Pagasa’s weather forecast to get accurate information.
“Anybody can be a forecaster with much information that you can get from the internet but please be careful of wrong interpretation,” he said.
He said the public can visit their main website and social media accounts to get updates on the weather conditions.
Improved facilities and equipment
Quiblat also assured the public that they have the improved facilities and equipment to gather weather and climate-related information.
He said the weather bureau is moving toward impact-based forecasting (IBF), which aims to provide accurate and precise information to the public.
"Pagasa is moving towards IBF, impact based forecasting. This is the new innovation of Pagasa. We are not only relying on the accuracy of the forecast on what the weather will be, padulong na ta on what the weather will do," he said.
He said they have also added more weather stations, upgraded their weather surveillance, data center, calibration center and sent forecasters into local and abroad trainings. (Camille Erika Butas, CNU Intern and Chrys Chelsea Bernales, UP Intern)