The weather bureau warned the public Wednesday to brace for a full-blown El Niño this year, signaling a prolonged period of reduced rainfall, rising temperatures, dry spells, and drought.
In a press briefing, the administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration Vicente Malano said the agency had already monitored signs of the weather phenomenon in the Pacific as early as July last year but expects the El Niño to become full-blown by the end of February or in March.
Climate monitoring chief Analiza Solis said that with El Niño, temperature during the summer could reach 40.7 degrees, particularly in Tuguegarao, Cagayan; while Metro Manila could experience temperatures as high as 38.2 degrees.
Earlier this year, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Basilan, Maguindanao, and Sulu were already experiencing a dry spell, while Ilocos Norte, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur are coping with drought, Solis said.
By the end of March, Abra, Bataan, Palawan, Ilocos Sur, and Zambales may also experience drought, she said.
Solis also said that El Niño, triggered by periodic warming in the eastern Pacific Ocean, could last for five months to two years, during which the affected areas will experience reduced rainfall.
El Niño also causes tropical cyclones to become erratic, pushing their track northwards and making them stronger, PAGASA said.
READ: Early El Niño onset feared
PAGASA weather division chief said the reduced rainfall as a result of El Niño could also cause water levels in dams to drop, reducing the amount of hydroelectric power that can be generated.
Malano noted that the provincial government of Bohol has already requested a cloud seeding operation due to the lack of water in its dam that supplies irrigation in rice fields.
Water supply in other provinces is also below normal, the PAGASA chief said.