MANILA, Philippines - Despite the developing El Niño phenomenon, the state weather bureau warned that three or four tropical cyclones could hit the country this month.
Nathaniel Servando, administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said yesterday that cyclones normally cross Central Luzon, the Bicol region and the Visayas during September.
Servando said two destructive tropical cyclones – “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” – in 2009 happened during an El Niño period.
Ondoy and Pepeng dumped excessive rain over Luzon,
including Metro Manila, triggering massive flooding that displaced thousands of families.
“Areas under Type I climate experienced excessive rainfall during the development of El Niño in 2009,” Servando said.
He said earlier that currently there is “60 to 70 percent probability” that El Niño phenomenon will develop this year.
“For the period June-July-August, the sea surface temperature anomalies were greater than 0.5 degrees Celsius,” Servando said, citing conditions for El Niño.
However, PAGASA said some parts of the country will begin to experience El Niño-like weather condition this month.
Servando said “below normal” rainfall is expected for Luzon, Central Visayas as well as Northern and Central Mindanao this month.
The country experienced the worst El Niño in 1997 to 1998 in which the estimated damage to agriculture reached more than P3 billion.
Reports said drought affected 68 percent of the country, compared to only 28 percent in 1972 and 16 percent in 1982.
Reports said the 1997-1998 El Niño caused a decrease in the live coral cover nationwide by about 49 percent due to the coral bleaching event associated with the warming of sea surface.