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El Niño to prevail in next few months

PAGASA warns of impact on health, agriculture

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By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

The impact of El Niño over the Philippines will likely become more severe in the next few months, causing warmer and drier conditions in most parts of the country, according to the state weather bureau.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said way below average rainfall will prevail over most of the country by April and below normal rainfall in most parts of Southern Luzon and Visayas by May.

Meanwhile, below average rainfall is expected in most parts of Luzon, except the eastern section in June.

PAGASA said air temperature will be near average to slightly warmer during this period.

International climate models show that the El Niño condition may continue until the third quarter and weaken by the last quarter of 2019. It also suggests a weak to moderate strength El Niño conditions in the coming months.

According to PAGASA, while the prevailing El Niño is “weak,” it could bring varying impacts on agriculture, water and marine resources, human health, and environment.

El Niño could cause a decline in soil moisture availability and crop production due to the delayed onset of rainy season. It could also cause increase in pests and diseases in crops.

It could also trigger fish kills and red tide, and decline in fish production.

Due to less rainfall, there will be a significant reduction in stream flows and groundwater, as well as decrease in water supply and quality that may affect dams, irrigation and power generation.

It could also bring the cost of drinking water higher due to reduced supply.

PAGASA said water scarcity could also lead to over extraction of groundwater and negative impact on the country’s forest resources.

Due to loss of vegetation, the soil will be prone to degradation.

Likewise, the warm condition could trigger the increase in forest and peatland fires, and poor air quality due to the occurrence of smoke and haze.

El Niño could also affect the human health due to less water for hygiene and sanitation.

The incidence of pulmonary disease could increase due to poorer air quality, and tropical diseases, such as malaria, dengue and skin diseases due to drier conditions and/or warmer air temperature.

Likewise, cases of food-borne disease could multiply, such as salmonellosis due to higher temperature.

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