PAGASA officially announced the end of La Niña last March 14, 2023, marking the end of a nearly three-year-long atmospheric condition that brought above-normal rains in many parts of the country. However, its effects may linger for months in some parts of the country.
What is La Niña?
La Niña is a climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean wherein stronger winds coming from the east bring warm waters nearer to Asia, including the Philippines. This increases the likelihood of above-normal rainfall conditions in many parts of the country, which leads to an increased incidence of flooding and landslides, according to PAGASA’s Climatology and Agrometeorology Division (PAGASA-CAD).
The recent La Niña condition which affected the Philippines was first observed in the latter part of 2021 and continued for nearly three years. Throughout its active period, the country experienced several tropical cyclones and heavy rainfall events which caused flooding and landslides in the different parts of the country, especially in eastern sections of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Rainy may conditions persist in some areas
The end of the La Niña condition means that the tropical Pacific Ocean is now back to its neutral state. However, PAGASA-CAD adds that because of the lag in its effects, parts of the country may still experience above-normal rainfall conditions.
Though the La Niña ended, parts of Southern Luzon, especially the Bicol Region, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccsksargen, Caraga, and BARMM may still experience above-normal rainfall conditions this March to April. Meanwhile, the rest of the country will experience generally normal rainfall conditions, except for much of the western section of Northern Luzon, which is expected to experience drier than normal March and April.
The prolonged rainy weather could affect the crops which are supposedly in the late stages or for harvest during the hot dry season. According to PAGASA-CAD, “continuous wet weather promotes fungal development and can cause damage to stored farm products, reduce the quality, viability, and market price of the grains. Thus, it is advised to keep barns and crop storage rooms in good, dry, and well-ventilated condition.”
Farmers in the eastern and southern sections of the country may finally see relief from above-normal rainfall conditions by May, though it should be noted that the rainy season may also have its onset during this time, followed by the increased chance of tropical cyclone impacts.
In terms of temperature, most of the country is expected to experience average to above-average temperature conditions this March through May. However, during these months, most of the country experiences hot and humid conditions, like in Northern Luzon where temperatures may reach 40.3℃ by May, according to PAGASA.
After La Niña, an increasing chance of El Niño
Even if the atmospheric conditions were generally back to normal, many climate models already show the possibility of the onset of El Niño during the latter part of the year 2023. According to PAGASA-CAD, neutral conditions may prevail this March to June, but there is already an increasing likelihood of El Niño conditions developing after. “El Niño, on the other hand, increases the likelihood of below-normal rainfall conditions, which could have negative effects (such as dry spells and droughts) in some areas of the country,” PAGASA-CAD adds.
After experiencing generally above-normal rainfall conditions due to the long La Niña, farmers across the country may eventually face its counterpart, El Niño, with problems with drought, dry spells, and hotter weather conditions this 2023-2024.