Pagasa: Prepare for ‘stronger’ El Niño


THE El Niño phenomenon currently experienced in the country has become “stronger,” a state meteorologist from Pagasa-Mactan said.

Alfredo “Al” Quiblat Jr., chief of Pagasa-Mactan, has urged the public, particularly the farmers and agriculturists, to be more vigilant as the El Niño transitions from moderate to strong, which might gravely deplete water and affect electricity supply.

Quiblat said the duration of the phenomenon has also extended to an additional three months.

“Indications show that it will become even stronger in the coming months, as the sea surface anomaly continues to rise, exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius,” he told SunStar on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023.

El Niño is a naturally occurring climate phenomenon in the tropical Pacific Ocean, marked by elevated sea-surface temperatures, significantly impacting global weather patterns and affecting billions of individuals.

Longer impact

Quiblat said the El Niño’s destructive impact may extend into the second quarter of the year.

“Earlier this year, as you may recall, we predicted that El Niño would persist until the first quarter of next year, around March, but now it will last longer,” Quiblat said, noting that these recent developments were announced by scientists and weather experts in the recent climate forum on Wednesday, Nov. 23.

Earlier, Pagasa predicted that the peak of El Niño would start in November until January 2024. However, intensified and extended effects will be felt, bringing a dry spell and drought in the first half of next year.

Dry spell and drought

Quiblat predicts a heightened chance of below-normal rainfall in various parts of the country, including the Visayas. Dry conditions are expected in Cebu starting February next year.

Quiblat said the maximum impact of the insufficient rainwater due to El Niño will become apparent in the first quarter of next year.

He also said that by March, Cebu might be in the midst of a dry spell.

A dry spell is characterized by either three successive months of below-normal rainfall or two consecutive months of “way below-normal” rainfall. Furthermore, a dry condition is specifically defined as two consecutive 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 either five consecutive months of “below-normal” rainfall or three consecutive months of “way below-normal” rainfall.


Quiblat has advised local farmers to coordinate with the Department of Agriculture and their local municipal agricultural office to prepare for the impending dry spell and drought. This may involve transitioning to drought-resistant crops.

“Understand that due to this El Niño, the supply of water and electricity will be affected, so preparations must be made, especially by our farmers,” he said.

He hopes the majority, including government agencies, have prepared for this climate phenomenon. He said public awareness efforts began in May, with the issuance of an El Niño watch.

He said they have issued a series of El Niño watches, alerts and five advisories to inform the public.

In a March interview with SunStar Cebu, Quiblat already said there is a high likelihood of El Niño that will hit the country in the later part of the year until early next year.

Water conservation

He suggests the public consistently practice water conservation, including in activities like drinking, food preparation, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, flushing toilets, watering lawns and gardens, and maintaining pools.

Quiblat urged the public to engage in rain harvesting, emphasizing its significance in light of the impending risk of low water supply due to El Niño.

Though they forecast rainfall will still be at normal levels by December, he said that it will lessen as we enter January since we are now under the northeast monsoon or Amihan.

Amihan is the cool, dry northeast wind from Siberia and China reaching Southeast Asia, bringing slight to moderate rainfall and a prevailing cold wind in the Philippines. It often signals the onset of the Christmas season.

Enough supply

Minerva Gerodias, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Cebu Water District, told SunStar Cebu that there is currently an ample water supply despite the ongoing El Niño phenomenon.

She further clarified that the water supply has returned to normal levels following a decrease in April and May, which she considered normal since it was during the dry hot season.

Gerodias added that the Jaclupan wellfield in Talisay, Cebu now produces an average of 260,000 cubic meters of waterper day, and the Buhisan dam in Cebu City consistently produces 3,500 to 4,000 cubic meters per day.


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