PAGASA: 'Ondoy-like' rains in western portions of PH possible before El Niño

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 17) — Rains reminiscent of "Ondoy" are possible in western parts of the country before El Niño begins in June, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned on Wednesday.

"Posibleng mangyari 'yun [Ondoy-like rains]. Yung Ondoy nangyari yun El Niño yun eh. Possible mangyari," PAGASA Officer-in-Charge Deputy Administrator for Operations and Services Bonifacio Pajuelas said during the House hearing on the dwindling water supply in Metro Manila.

[Translation: It is possible for Ondoy-like rains to occur. Ondoy happened during an El Niño episode. It's possible.]

Pajuelas said the state weather bureau sees a 90% probability of El Niño during the months of June to August, adding that it would likely persist until the first quarter of 2024.

READ: El Niño likely to begin in 2nd half of 2023 — PAGASA

He also warned that the El Niño phenomenon would bring lower-than-usual precipitation, prompting some concerns from Valenzuela 2nd District Representative Eric Martinez, who feared the dry period would worsen the looming water shortage.

"Paano kung yung weather pattern natin because of El Niño because of global warming, mag-shift yung alignments ng umuulan dati rito, dati doon umuulan," he asked. "Paano kung hindi umulan sa Sierra Madre mountain ranges na sasakop sa Angat watershed?"

[Translation: What if our weather pattern, because of El Niño, because of global warming, shifts alignments, and not rain where it used to? What if it doesn't rain in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges that cover the Angat watershed?]

In response, Pajuelas assured Martinez and other lawmakers at the hearing that the western part of the country can still expect above normal rainfall during El Niño.

READ: Localities begin preparing for El Niño impact

"Yung epekto naman ng El Niño parating tinatamaan yung eastern side ng ating archipelago. Sa western sections lalo na kapag southwest monsoon, madaming ulan. Itong parating na pag-pasok ng southeast monsoon na nakikita namin, enhanced yung pag-uulan niya eh," he said.

[Translation: The El Niño always affects the eastern side of our archipelago. In the western sections, especially during the southwest monsoon, there is a lot of rain. In the approaching southeast monsoon we are seeing enhanced rains.]

READ: NDRRMC: Up to 46 provinces could be affected as El Niño worsens

Pajuelas said a massive amount of rainfall is needed before June to replenish major dams and watersheds.

Meanwhile, water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water said they are working to make their treatment and sewerage facilities climate-resilient to avoid interruptions. They said they regularly consult with local and international experts, as well as regulators, and undergo audits to make sure their designs pass standards.

Tropical Storm Ondoy dumped a massive amount of rain over a 24-hour period, flooding many parts of Metro Manila, Central and Southern Luzon, and leaving 400 people dead.