Weak El Niño to hit Bukidnon, 46 other provinces – forecast

Screenshot of the PAGASA Climate Outlook for January to June 2019

MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/14 January 2019) Bukidnon is listed among 47 provinces in the Philippines expected to be hit by drought in the first three months this year with the possible occurrence of the El Niño phenomenon, according to the latest Climate Outlook of the PAGASA weather bureau.

The PAGASA forecast, based on a public copy of the Climate Outlook for the first half of 2019, has reflected the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) advisories from the international prediction centers.

According to the report, the latest climate models predict a weak El Niño by the end of December 2018 or early 2019.

More than half or 56 percent of the country’s 83 provinces are expected to experience drought, with eleven provinces classified under ʺdry spellʺ and 12 under ʺdry conditionʺ or a situation of two consecutive months of below normal or 21 to 60 percent reduction from average rainfall conditions.
There are 13 provinces; from the Agusan, Cotabato and Davao provinces, which were forecast to be not affected by the El Nino.

Drought vs. dry spell
Based on PAGASA definitions, a drought situation is three consecutive months of way below normal or greater than 60% reduction from average rainfall or five consecutive months of below normal or 21% to 60% reduction from average rainfall.

As of December 19, 2018, Bukidnon was already included in the list of 58 provinces whose monthly rainfall in January 2019 was forecast to be ʺbelow normalʺ in terms of percent to normal rainfall.  In the same period, 12 other provinces have been included in the ʺway below normalʺ list.

As of December 2018, the province has already experienced dry spell along with 16 other provinces. Dry   spell is a situation of three consecutive months of below normal or 21 to 60 percent reduction from average rainfall conditions; or two consecutive months of way below normal or more than 60 percent reduction from average rainfall conditions.

But the forecast showed that by January Bukidnon will join eight other Mindanao provinces in the drought list; Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Sulu, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay. Thirty eight other provinces from Luzon and Visayas are in the list expected to be hit by drought.

PAGASA reported that while sea surface temperature (SST) has now reached El Niño levels, atmospheric indicators did not show consistent El Niño signal. The weather bureau, however, warned that it has 70 to 80 percent chance of occurring.

El Niño what?
The El Niño is a large scale oceanographic/meteorological phenomenon that develops in the Pacific Ocean. It is the migration from time to time of warm surface waters from the western equatorial Pacific Basin to the eastern equatorial Pacific region, along the coasts of Peru and Ecuador, according to the PAGASA website.

Among the climatic indicators of El Niño in the Philippines include delayed onset of the rainy season, early termination of the rainy season, weak monsoon activity isolated heavy downpour with short duration, far tropical cyclone track and less number of tropical cyclones entering the Philippine Areas of Responsibility.

Bukidnon and the El Niño in 2009-10 and 2015-16
Bukidnon was placed under State of Calamity in 2016 when it experienced drought brought by El Nino in November 2015 to February 2016.

The provincial government noted that the three-month drought has brought damage not only to agriculture and related industries, affecting its economy.

According to GMA News Online, the Provincial Disaster Reduction and Risk Management Council and Provincial Agriculture’s Office reported that at least 55.57 percent of planted areas for agricultural products such as corn, rice, cassava and vegetables were damaged by the drought.

For corn, for example, out of a total planted area of 31,294.75 hectares, 23,697.87 hectares has been damaged or 75.7 percent. At least 20,734.72 hectares have no chance for recovery.

Farms did not dry up in the province in 2009 to 2010 when the long dry spell hit the country then, but around 6,000 farmers were reported to have reduced harvest.

Based on figures released on by the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) in February 2010, 5,893 or nearly 10 percent of Bukidnon’s estimated 60,000 farmers, most of them into corn farming, have experienced reduced harvest in the last cropping season.

PAO has reported that farm output dropped by 10 to 15 percent due to the dry spell.

In terms of land area, the reduced harvest was observed in close to 14,000 hectares of farmlands, based on the partial report on area by commodity, which the PAO submitted to the Department of Agriculture.

Alson Quimba, provincial agriculturist, said in 2010 that the El Niño effect in the province in 2009 to 2010 was “not alarming,” adding they have initiated interventions such as disaster planning, monthly updating with the state weather bureau and the municipal agriculturists around the province. (BukidnonNews.Net)