Tropical cyclones’ threat remains amid El Niño


People nationwide must still prepare for possible tropical cyclones (TCs) in the remaining months of the year despite the continuing strong El Niño phenomenon.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) – the state weather bureau — emphasized such point as its forecasters haven’t yet ruled out occurrence of TCs in such months.

“The threat of TCs still looms even if El Niño is already prevailing so people must prepare for these accordingly,” said Pagasa’s Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section OIC Anthony Lucero.

He noted last week’s onslaught of Typhoon Lando (international name: Koppu) in Luzon is proof TCs can still occur despite El Niño and the dry condition this phenomenon causes.

“We expect a very large part of the country to experience dry condition due to El Niño but TCs are still possible at this time of the year,” he said.

Latest available official National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) data show Lando affected almost 360,000 families or nearly 1.7 million people in regions I, II, III and IV-A as well as CAR and NCR.

The data also show a total 46 deaths and 82 injuries from Lando in the six regions.
Pagasa reported Lando rains helped increase reserve in Luzon’s dams, however.

Such facilities include Angat Dam where Metro Manila sources some 97 percent of its water, Pagasa noted.

For 2015’s remaining months, Pagasa forecast one to two TCs in each of October and November as well as zero to one TC this December.

Such TCs can strike either Luzon, the Visayas or Mindanao, noted Pagasa.

“People must still prepare for extreme events like Lando that devastated Luzon,” Lucero warned.

PAGASA’s monitoring showed Lando and storm Kabayan as TCs in the country this October so far.

NDRRMC monitored Lando-induced flooding in Northern Luzon’s Cagayan, Benguet, Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya provinces as well as Central Luzon’s Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Bulacan, Pampanga and Zambales provinces.

The agency also reported monitoring four landslides in Region I and CAR.

Lucero clarified Lando isn’t an unusual occurrence, however.

“We had TCs in previous El Niño years,” he said.

The track of Lando is even similar to some of such TCs, he continued.

Pagasa said the Philippines averages around 19 TCs to 20 TCs annually.
Lando is the 12th TC in the country this year.

“That’s less than the normal count, however,” noted weather forecaster Rene Paciente.
He said the country normally has between 15 TCs to 16 TCs from January to October.
Lesser number of TCs as well as weak monsoon activity, early termination of the rainy season and extension of the dry period are some of El Niño’s impacts on Philippine climate, Pagasa said.

TCs are among weather systems that can affect the country from October 2015 to March 2016, Pagasa continued.

Pagasa added other weather systems that can also affect the country during the period are the northeast monsoon, tail-end of a cold front, intertropical convergence zone, low-pressure area, easterly wave and ridge of a high-pressure area.

NEDA sees 6-6.5% growth despite ‘Lando’

The government expects the Philippine economy to continue expanding in the fourth quarter despite the devastation wrought by typhoon Lando, ending the year with growth of around 6 to 6.5 percent.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said damage to agriculture and infrastructure from typhoon stood at over P7 billion.

“The damage is not so much for a Php12-trillion economy,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the press briefing on the sustainable development goals.

Balisacan added that cost of typhoon Lando represents only 0.6 percent of value-added agriculture. Strong typhoon Lando struck extreme northern Luzon earlier this week.

“So for the entire GDP (gross domestic product), (the impact is) much lower. What is important is its (typhoon) impact on people’s lives, their assets, their livelihoods; it takes time for them to recover. We have to find alternative jobs for them,” he said.

Balisacan, who is also National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director-general, added there were other positive drivers that could offset the minimal negative impact of the ‘Lando’ on the fourth-quarter growth.

“Government spending, I’m hoping that it will continue to accelerate because there are improvements that we saw in July, August and September and the rest of the year. That will (also) help offset negative developments in exports; our exports (register a) negative growth,” he noted.

Balisacan said a 15 to 20-percent increase in the government spending translates to a 2 percentage points in the country’s GDP.

While government spending only shared about 12 percent of GDP, it affected the performance of the private sector, he said.

With this, the NEDA chief sees a 6 to 6.5-percent full year GDP growth, slightly lower than the government’s growth target of 7 percent for 2015.

“I’m not looking at the 7 percent anymore because that’s a very unrealistic (target) already. But at least we get within the 6 to 6.5 percent, that’s still a remarkable performance,” he said.

Balisacan earlier said achieving a 6 to 6.5-percent full-year GDP growth would still enable the Philippines maintain its position as one of Asia’s best performers.

The domestic economy grew by 5.6 percent in the second quarter, bringing the first-semester GDP growth at 5.3 percent.



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