THERE is a high likelihood that no tropical cyclone will enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) in January, according to a state meteorologist.
Alfredo Quiblat, chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Mactan, said this forecast is attributed to the prevailing El Niño phenomenon, a climatic event expected to influence weather patterns in the region.
Quiblat told SunStar Cebu on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, that El Niño will potentially lead to a lower-than-average number of cyclones entering PAR, an area where Pagasa monitors weather occurrences.
He said there might be one cyclone this month, and this trend is expected to extend in February and March.
Last year, there were only 11 weather disturbances that developed into a tropical cyclone. The year was capped with tropical cyclone Kabayan last December.
On average, there are usually 20 tropical cyclones that visit the country annually, Quiblat said.
El Niño phenomenon
El Niño is a natural climate pattern characterized by warmer sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific resulting in below-normal rainfall.
The phenomenon has also far-reaching effects on global weather patterns. In the case of the Philippines, El Niño typically results in drier and warmer conditions, suppressing the development of tropical cyclones.
Quiblat has maintained its prediction for El Niño in the coming months, based on their recent climate forum with other experts last December.
He added that, at present, El Niño is still classified as a strong phenomenon, and its effects will persist until the second quarter of the year.
He said a heightened chance of below-normal rainfall in various parts of the country, including the Visayas. Dry conditions are expected in Cebu starting February this year.
Quiblat said the maximum impact of the insufficient rainwater due to El Niño will become apparent in the first quarter of this year, adding that by March, Cebu might be in the midst of a dry spell.
A dry condition is specifically defined as two consecutive months of below-normal rainfall, while a dry spell is characterized by three successive months of below-normal rainfall.
Moreover, Quiblat said the phenomenon’s impact would intensify, leading to drought in May.
Drought is designated as an extended dry condition marked by five consecutive months of below-normal rainfall.
Generally fair weather
Quiblat said the public can expect fair weather this month, emphasizing that no gale warnings have been issued in the region, which means weather conditions are expected to be favorable for sea vessels.
Quiblat, however, said there is still a possibility of scattered rain showers, which will be due to localized thunderstorms.
He further encouraged the public to stay informed and remain vigilant despite the reduced likelihood of tropical cyclones this month.