Editorial: Bracing for El Niño

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Friday, March 7, 2014

THE pendulum is about to swing to the other extreme.

The Lenten season that was ushered in recently by Ash Wednesday is usually associated with summer or a dry spell called “kuwaresma.”

We already know that. But this time around the hot days may extend well beyond the bounds of the usual summer period.


The weather bureau Pagasa has warned of the coming of a longer dry spell known as El Niño. Its forecast says the weather phenomenon may hit the country in June, with its effects felt in the last quarter of this year.

That would mean, as Pagasa’s Al Quiblat said, a decrease in the occurrence of typhoons in the country.

It surely is music to the ears of those who have seen the devastation wrought by super typhoon Yolanda on parts of the Visayas late last year.

A decrease in the occurrence of typhoons means chances that the country would be hit by another Yolanda-type weather disturbance will also be reduced.

But a dry spell can be as damaging if it lasts too long. It would affect the supply of water and agricultural produce. Farmers will be the most affected as the planting cycle would be disrupted.

That is why both Pagasa and concerned agencies like the Department of Agriculture (DA) are already calling on the people to brace for El Niño’s entry. But will the warning be heeded?

We are no longer strangers to long dry spells because these have hit us in the recent past. That is why all those concerned should start mapping out ways to mitigate the impact of El Niño by using the lessons learned from the previous El Niño occurrences.

Meanwhile, this period should also be used as an opportunity by local government units and concerned government agencies to fast track the rehabilitation of the areas devastated by Yolanda.

Disaster preparedness can also be attended to without it being disturbed by the entry of more typhoons. With El Niño, there is no longer any reason to worry that projects won’t be completed because of a weather disturbance.

An extended dry spell can be viewed negatively or positively. But here’s one thing we are sure: the time for talk is over. Let us act now while the weather is still cooperating.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 07, 2014.


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