By Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz
The weak El Niño that brought significant impact on the rainfall pattern and tropical cyclone activity since the last quarter of 2018 has officially ended.
Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Administrator Vicente Malano said the warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean has weakened and transitioned into neutral levels in July.
It is expected that neutral conditions where there is neither El Niño nor La Niña will likely persist through the remainder of the year, Malano pointed out.
The Philippines has been experiencing below normal tropical cyclone activity since the start of the year, with only eight tropical cyclones that developed from January to August.
Based on historical record, the country averages 20 tropical cyclones every year.
The El Niño also triggered the depletion of major dams in Luzon, particularly Angat and La Mesa Dams, in the past few months.
At present, Angat Dam has already recovered from its 160-meter critical mark but remains below the 180-meter minimum operating level and 210-meter normal high water level during the rainy season.
But its water level has been gradually increasing since the beginning of August due to an active southwest monsoon or “habagat.”
Based on the PAGASA’s monitoring, the water level at Angat Dam rose to 176.72 meters on Thursday from 176.29 meters last Wednesday.
La Mesa Dam, which fell below its 69-meter critical level last March, is also gradually improving with 76.71 meters on Thursday.
This month, one or three more cyclones may likely enter or make landfall over the country. Typhoon “Hanna” (Lekima) was the first cyclone to enter the Philippine area of responsibility in August, and the eighth this year.
The rainfall for the month is predicted to be generally near normal with areas of above normal rainfall conditions in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Masbate, Metro Manila, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Bataan, Aurora, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, and most parts of Eastern Visayas.