PAGASA: Dry spell stays until August

By Jolene Bulambot
Visayas Bureau
Last updated 08:58pm (Mla time) 07/26/2007

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The dry spell experienced in Metro Manila and western part of Luzon is expected to continue until August, according to the country’s chief weather forecaster.


But there is no guarantee rains will come in August.


And if the abnormal weather condition continues, it could be “very alarming” as it would result in severe power and water shortage in Luzon, said Nathaniel Cruz, the chief of the forecasting department of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).


Cruz described current weather conditions as “displaced” because normally, tropical cyclones would be hitting Luzon at this time but none has arrived so far.


Rainfall has been extremely low and only two, instead of eight typhoons, has entered the country since January, he said.


“We have this displaced weather situation. Instead of the wet season, we have a dry spell in Luzon. And it’s raining in Visayas and Mindanao (when these areas should be dry),” said Cruz, who was in Cebu for a national forum on disaster management for local chief executives.


The national government has started cloud seeding to induce rain in Luzon, according to Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, who was also in Cebu to keynote the forum.


Gonzales said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo instructed him on Thursday to release two more planes for the cloud seeding operations that would induce rain.


While Luzon was worrying about the critical shortfall in rains, Gonzales and Cruz expressed fear heavy rains in Visayas and Mindanao would be disastrous to landslide-prone areas.


Among the areas being closely monitored were the towns of St. Bernard and Hinunangan in Southern Leyte, Gonzales said.


One of the country’s biggest disasters occurred in February 2006 in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte where a portion of a mountain collapsed and buried the whole village of Guinsaugon, leaving over 900 residents dead and about a thousand more missing.


Gonzales said the government was rushing the geo-hazard maps in areas prone to landslides, especially in Southern Leyte.


He said some residents in Southern Leyte might have to be immediately relocated.


Salvador Estudillo, the Office of the Civil Defense director for Eastern Visayas, said that officials from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology would be visiting St. Bernard and Hinunangan towns to assess the areas where cracks in the mountains and tremors were reported by residents.


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