Cebu ‘to experience’ drought until May

Cebu ‘to experience’ drought until May
(Photo by Yans Baroy)

CEBU and nine other provinces in the Visayas are now experiencing drought due to the ongoing El Niño phenomenon, the state weather bureau said.

Weather specialist Jhomer Eclarino of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Visayas said the El Niño has transitioned from being strong and mature to moderate.

Although it is “weakening,” its effects will still be felt in the next two months, he said during a news forum on Tuesday, March 26, 2024.

According to Pagasa, El Niño elevates sea-surface temperatures, influencing global weather patterns by altering precipitation, temperature and atmospheric circulation. This ultimately leads to decreased rainfall.

The weather agency said 10 provinces in the Visayas, including Cebu, are under drought. The other provinces are Antique, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Samar.

Climactic periods

Meanwhile, Bohol, Capiz, Northern Samar and Southern Leyte are under a dry spell. Only Aklan is under dry conditions.

The climatic periods are categorized based on the recorded rainfall compared to normal levels in the respective provinces.

Eclarino said dry conditions occur with two consecutive months of below-normal rainfall, while a dry spell is indicated by three successive months of below-normal rainfall or two consecutive months of significantly below-normal levels.

He said drought is classified as an extended dry condition, either with five consecutive months of below-normal rainfall or three months of significantly below-normal rainfall.

Pagasa previously defined below-normal rainfall as 20 to 60 percent less than the usual amount, while way-below-normal rainfall indicates more than a 60 percent decrease from the norm.

Eclarino advised the public to practice water conservation due to continuing decreased rainfall.

He said that on average every March, Cebu’s rainfall is recorded at 60.9 millimeters. However, this year, it is only at 9.8 millimeters, which translates to an 84 percent reduction.

“Dagko atong kakulangan sa ulan sa (We have a big rainfall shortage in) Cebu Province,” he said.

Production decline

Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) experienced a critical decline in its surface water facility, losing approximately 29,000 cubic meters per day as a result of the ongoing El Niño phenomenon.

In Jaclupan in Talisay City and in the mountain barangay of Lusaran in Cebu City, water production decreased to 20,000 from 30,000 cubic meters, while at the Buhisan Dam, production dropped to 4,000 from 6,000 cubic meters.

Normally, MCWD produces 301,000 cubic meters, but due to these circumstances, production has decreased to 272,000 cubic meters.

MCWD is a water utility firm whose franchise area covers the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay, and the towns of Cordova, Consolacion, Liloan and Compostela.

Eclarino urged the public to brace for the intense heat expected this Holy Week, with the heat index ranging from 38 to 41 degrees Celsius.

He said this is classified under the category of extreme caution, suggesting that heat cramps and heat exhaustion are possible, and further activity may result in heatstroke.

The heat index or “feels-like” temperature combines air temperature and humidity to indicate how hot the weather would feel to the human body.

Eclarino advised the public to avoid staying outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., especially during peak hours when the highest heat index is felt. / KJF


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