Dry spell affects a rice field killing the local farmer's crops. (Photo from Greenpeace)

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has issued a warning for Palawan to prepare for a dry spell due to the El Niño phenomenon.

In the assessment by Ana Liza Solis, Assistant Weather Services Chief of PAGASA’s Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section (CLIMPS), Palawan and several areas in Visayas, including Negros Oriental, Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor, Leyte, and most of Mindanao, are expected to experience below-normal rainfall conditions for two consecutive months. These conditions could disrupt normal agricultural and water supply patterns in these regions.

Furthermore, PAGASA anticipates that drought conditions will persist in six areas of the country by the end of February 2024, with a concerning increase to 45 areas experiencing drought by the end of March next year. PAGASA defines drought as a prolonged dry spell characterized by either five consecutive months of “below-normal” rainfall or three consecutive months of “way below-normal” rainfall.

The rainfall forecast provided by PAGASA paints a concerning picture for the coming months. In October, Luzon and most parts of Visayas can expect below-normal to “near-normal” rainfall, with a higher probability of below-normal conditions. Meanwhile, Western Visayas, some portions of southern Palawan, and Mindanao are forecasted to experience near-normal rainfall.

As November approaches, the situation becomes more precarious, with way-below to below-normal rainfall expected in Mindanao, eastern Mindanao, and eastern portions of Luzon. There are uncertainties for eastern Visayas and eastern Mindanao, where near-normal to above-normal rainfall conditions may persist due to potential tropical cyclone effects.

By December, PAGASA predicts that the situation could worsen, with near-normal to above-normal rainfall expected for Luzon, portions of Southern Luzon, and the Bicol Region. Visayas and Mindanao face a “high chance” of below-normal rainfall conditions, intensifying concerns about water resources and agricultural productivity in these regions.

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