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PAGASA: Strong El Niño may persist until February

MANILA, Philippines, January 21 ------ The state weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said that a “strong” El Niño is currently ongoing and may last until February this year. In its Advisory No. 7, however, PAGASA said that the weather phenomenon will transition into a neutral state of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in June 2024. “Majority of global climate models suggest that El Niño will likely persist until the March-April-May 2024 season with a transition to ENSO-neutral in the April-May-June 2024 season,” the advisory reads. 


According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the ENSO-neutral state is neither El Niño nor La Niña, where trade winds blow east to west across the Pacific Ocean, bringing warm moist air and warmer surface waters towards the western Pacific and keeping the central Pacific Ocean “relatively cool.” 


PAGASA declared the start of the El Niño in June 2023. In December 2023, Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology  Renato Solidum Jr. said that 65 provinces in the country are likely to be hit by severe drought due to the dry spell by the first half of 2024. Solidum likened the present El Niño to the 1997 to 1998 dry spell, the most severe the country had ever encountered, causing billions of pesos in agricultural damage. “Now, based on recent conditions, moderate to severe drought conditions are likely from February to May 2024. And by end of May, there would be 77 percent of the provinces of the country that will have potential for drought – that would be around 65 provinces; and seven percent potential for dry spell or around six provinces,” Solidum said at a press briefing last December. 


The National Economic and Development Authority and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas previously warned that the upcoming dry spell may affect the country’s food supply and consumer prices. In response, the Department of Agriculture said on January 10 that it is crafting implementing rules and regulations for Section 9 of Republic Act No. 7581, also known as the Price Act, seeking to stabilize necessities and commodities supply while protecting consumers from unjustified price hikes during food shortages. 




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