MANILA - An El Niño may develop as early as the second half of the year, global weather bodies said, threatening dry weather in the Pacific Region that has barely recovered from a similar weather event last year.
Philippine rice paddy output was forecast to slump to a three-year low in 2016 as El Niño dried out farm lands and Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia had flagged extreme weather as among the most potent threats to growth.
Six of eight weather models suggest "El Niño thresholds may be reached this year," with all models showing a "steady warming" of the central Pacific Ocean, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement Tuesday.
The likelihood of an El Niño forming this year is double the average at 50 percent, the agency said.
The US Climate Prediction Center said earlier this week that despite "neutral" conditions, there were "increasing chances for El Niño development into the fall."
The United Nations' World Meteorological Association, in its most recent note on El Niño last February, said the dry spell or neutral conditions were both "possible" in the second half.
It said the likelihood of El Niño was at 35 to 40 percent.
"El Niño development is to some extent encouraged by the backdrop of the warm remnants of the strong 2015-16," the UN weather agency said.
There was no immediate comment from Philippine weather bureau PAGASA when contacted by ABS-CBN News.