Preparing for La Niña

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EDITORIAL

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration is predicting the likely development of the La Niña weather phenomenon in the country by the end of September or early October.

PAGASA weather forecaster Ariel Roxas estimates a 60 percent chance of La Niña developing by the end of this month and that would bring more than the usual rainfall. The weather condition could persist until February 2021, even through the northeast monsoon or amihan season.

The weather bureau is also forecasting seven to 10 weather disturbances to visit the country until early next year.

La Niña is caused by a build-up of cooler than normal waters in the tropical Pacific. Unusually strong, eastward-moving trade winds and ocean currents bring this cold water to the surface, potentially causing a drastic drop in sea surface temperatures. Lower than normal air pressure zones over the western Pacific contribute to increased rainfall.

With this advance information, towns and cities in the Philippines should have ample time to prepare for more than the usual rainfall in the coming months. While most of our attention is currently focused on COVID-19, our government officials will have to spare critical resources towards flood prevention efforts and disaster risk reduction and management preparations.

Hopefully the storm drains and drainage canals that require regular maintenance have not been ignored during the pandemic. The capacity and capability of evacuation centers will also need reevaluation in the light of additional COVID-19 imposed requirements such as social distancing and the emphasis on handwashing and personal hygiene.

COVID-19 may have stopped our world but the world has not stopped. The climate continues to change and weather phenomenon that have afflicted our communities for years will continue to pose a threat to those that are unprepared. The conditions may not be ideal but it is the obligation of community leaders to use the next few weeks to get our communities ready for whatever La Niña may bring.*

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