Manila, Philippines |AFP| – The disaster-haunted Philippines is likely to be hit by stronger typhoons this year as warming ocean surfaces contribute to a dry spell, the state weather service warned Wednesday.
The Asian archipelago, whipped by about 20 typhoons and storms each year, is now in the grips of the “El Nino” phenomenon that can make storms “stronger” and more “erratic”, weather service chief Vicente Malano said.
“El Nino may cause the behaviour of tropical cyclones to become erratic, affecting (their) tracks and intensity,” he said in an advisory, adding that the same number of storms are expected.
“The tropical cyclone tracks are expected to shift northward and (their) intensity could become stronger,” Malano said.
Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever to hit land, left more than 7,350 people dead or missing in central regions of the Philippines in November 2013 as it dumped tsunami-like waves on coastlines, wiping out entire towns.
Philippine officials have blamed climate change for increasing the ferocity of recent typhoons, causing them to strike even outside the traditional rainy season of June-September and to hit once largely-untouched areas.
“El Nino” refers to the abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical sections of the Pacific Ocean every three to five years.
The phenomenon, which the weather service said it began observing last December, leads to drier-than-average conditions on one side of the Pacific and wetter ones on the opposite coast.