Landslides, floods further threaten eastern PHL

MANILA-- More rough sailing is possible in Eastern Visayas, Caraga region and other eastern areas of Visayas and Mindanao that are already reeling from this month's rain-induced landslides and floods.

Expected near- to above-normal rainfall this February and March can trigger new landslides and flash floods in those areas and other parts in the country's eastern seaboard despite waning prospects for the rain-driving La NiAa phenomenon's full-blown development, said the state weather bureau, PAGASA.

"Those areas can experience La NiAa-like conditions so communities concerned must prepare for such possibility," said weather specialist Rusy Abastillas.

According to PAGASA, most of the country's eastern seaboard has Type II climate that has no dry season but is marked by a very pronounced maximum rain period from December to February.

"Very wet weather is normal in the eastern seaboard during this time of the year," Abastillas said.

Even if La NiAa isn't full-blown, she said rain there in the next two months can be more intense than normal.

The La NiAa and El NiAo phenomena are the cold and warm phases of the El NiAo-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, respectively, said experts.

They said ENSO is characterized by temperature fluctuations between the ocean and atmosphere in east-central Equatorial Pacific.

Among La NiAa's impacts is above-normal rain.

A study said several days' downpour possibly helped trigger the large-scale February 2006 landslide in Guinsaugon village in Eastern Visayas' Southern Leyte province, resulting in about 1,221 fatalities.

The bureau declared a weak La NiAa that year, Abastillas recalled.

"People must be aware of La NiAa's possible impacts," she said.

Earlier, PAGASA said oceanic and atmospheric indicators reached weak or borderline La NiAa levels in October 2016.

Prospects for a weak La NiAa's full development remain dim.

Among the latest international forecasts is La NiAa's transition to ENSO-neutral condition around next month, PAGASA reported this week.

Even if such transition occurs, experts said La NiAa's impacts can still linger for some time.

The bureau expects above-normal rainfall to last until around March this year.

The northeast monsoon or 'amihan' thunderstorms, low-pressure areas, tail-end of a cold front and tropical cyclones are rain-driving weather systems that can affect the country from February to July this year, PAGASA added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines information agency