El Niño affects Cebu, 10 provinces in Visayas

El Niño affects Cebu, 10 provinces in Visayas
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CEBU and 10 other provinces in Visayas are feeling the effects of the ongoing El Niño phenomenon, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Visayas.

As of January 2024, 10 of the 11 provinces were experiencing dry conditions, with only one province undergoing a dry spell, said Pagasa Visayas Chief Alfredo “Al” Quiblat Jr.

Areas under dry conditions included Cebu and Negros Oriental in Central Visayas; Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, and Iloilo in Western Visayas; and Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, and Samar in Eastern Visayas.

Negros Occidental in Western Visayas was the only province experiencing a dry spell.

Visayas comprises three regions: Western Visayas (six provinces), Central Visayas (four provinces), and Eastern Visayas (six provinces).

According to Pagasa, El Niño leads to elevated sea-surface temperatures, influencing global weather patterns by causing shifts in precipitation, temperature, and atmospheric circulation, ultimately resulting in reduced rainfall. Reports suggest that decreased rainfall in provinces can devastate agriculture, leading to crop failures and economic losses due to water scarcity for irrigation.

Quiblat predicted on Wednesday, Feb. 15, that the ongoing phenomenon will persist throughout this month and extend into May.


Quiblat explained that a place is categorized as having a dry condition if it experiences below-normal rainfall for two consecutive months. A dry spell is characterized by three successive months of below-normal rainfall.

“This is the actual record we have based on the actual recorded rainfall measured,” Quiblat said in Cebuano.

The good news, though, is that there is no province in Visayas that is experiencing drought, according to Quiblat.

Drought occurs when there is an extended dry condition, marked by either five consecutive months of below-normal rainfall or three consecutive months of way below-normal rainfall.

Pagasa Visayas did not provide the specific measurement of rainfall in the 11 provinces.

Quiblat said that more provinces will be affected by the ongoing El Niño phenomenon at the end of the month, adding that the status of the 10 provinces under dry conditions will be upgraded to a dry spell, while Negros Occidental will be under drought.

The Pagasa Visayas chief further said three new provinces will be classified, including Bohol and Siquijor in Central Visayas, and Southern Leyte in Eastern Visayas, under dry conditions.


Keith Monteroso, overseeing the project monitoring of the National Irrigation Administration in Cebu, said last Jan. 30 that they have identified non-vulnerable areas for optimizing water resources.

“As part of our measures, we have identified vulnerable areas. We assume zero rainfall, so we have targeted areas where crops will not be planted to mitigate potential damages,” he said.

He did not divulge the specifics of these areas prone to the threat of El Niño; however, he said that in 12,000 hectares of farming land in the region, almost half of it, or 6,500 hectares, were not allowed to be used for planting.

Monteroso added that they have advised farmers to adjust their cropping calendars. Typically, the dry and wet seasons start in May and November, respectively. However, due to the threat of El Niño, they have adjusted to February and September as the start of these seasons.

He said there have not been any significant crop damages in Central Visayas.

To aid farmers whose land was not utilized in farming, Monteroso said they enrolled the farmers in different programs of other government agencies, including the Department of Labor and Employment, for cash-for-work programs.

Meanwhile, in response to the impacts of El Niño, the Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 has ramped up its annual budget for 2024 to P2.7 billion, marking a 28.5 percent increase from last year’s P2.1 billion allocation.

Leo Pelletero, a project evaluation officer at DA 7, said that besides addressing the repercussions of the climatic phenomenon, the augmented budget aims to enhance agricultural production output in the region.

Cobra sightings

Shelbay Blanco of the Department of Health 7 health emergency management services said that the ongoing El Niño has resulted in a surge in the number of snake sightings, particularly of the king cobra, locally called banakon in Cebu.

Earlier, he said that cobras, due to their heightened sensitivity to temperature variations, might venture beyond their typical habitats during periods of increased heat.

He added that extreme warmth may prompt these cold-blooded snakes to seek out alternative environments with cooler or more favorable temperatures.


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