By Alexandria San Juan
The number of provinces that will experience drought is expected to double from five to 10 this March, the state weather bureau said.
Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section chief Analiza Solis said that since February this year, five provinces are experiencing meteorological drought. These are Ilocos Norte, Zamboanga Del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Maguindanao, and Sulu.
Solis said the weather condition will also likely be experienced in five more provinces this month including Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Ilocos Sur, and La Union, which have been having a dry spell since February.
Solis added that the number of provinces grappling with drought is expected to increase to 22 by the end of April.
In the climate outlook of Pagasa issued last month, the number of drought-hit provinces in the country is also expected to climb up to 33 by the end of May and decrease again to 20 by the end of June.
According to Pagasa, a drought is defined as three con¬secutive months of way below normal (60 percent lower than average) or five consecutive months of below normal (21 to 60 percent lower than average) rainfall.
A dry spell is described as three con¬secutive months of below normal (21 to 60 percent lower than average) rainfall or two consecutive months of way below normal (more than 60 percent lower than average) rainfall.
In its earlier advisory, Pagasa said the country is experiencing reduced rainfall and warmer temperatures due to a weak El Niño.