Tue, Mar 02, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Weather bureau warns of heavy rains this spring

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation must brace for the possibility of heavy precipitation this spring because of the combined influence of the reduced El Nino effect and high air pressure lingering in the Philippines, the Central Weather Bureau said yesterday.

The bureau gave its rainfall and temperature forecasts for this month through May yesterday as the nation marked the start of spring.

Cheng Ming-dean (鄭明典), director of the bureau's forecast center, said the El Nino effect culminated at the end of December and began gradually easing by the middle of January.

At the moment, seawater near the equator and the East Pacific Ocean remains warm, an indicator of the lingering El Nino effect, he said. Though its effect will not be as forceful, El Nino will continue to influence the country through May.

Cheng said the bureau forecast that average temperatures during these three months would very likely be close to or exceeding the normal range. Rainfall, on the other hand, was forecast to be close to normal.

“The question is not the amount of rainfall that we can expect this year,” Cheng said. “What we are about to see is strong convective precipitation that falls in certain areas within a short period of time, which makes this year more alarming than any other year over the past decade.”

Cheng said the nation must prepare for the potential damage brought by such precipitation, particularly as the soil in mountainous areas is still loose and soft after the mudflows caused by Typhoon Morakot last August.

The bureau's analysis shows that the situation this year is very similar to that in 2005, which was also an El Nino year.

Bureau records show that accumulated rainfall in 2005 was the highest in the last 10 years, with about 200 days of rain exceeding standards set for heavy rain. Heavy rainfall was also experienced between February and June in 2005.

Cheng said the bureau had a confidence rating of 50 percent in its forecast for spring rain.

He said Taiwan generally has more rainfall in the spring of an El Nino year once the high air pressure in the Philippines emerges. He added that the results of the Asia Pacific Climate Center's computer simulated tests also point to the nation experiencing more rain this spring.

“The bureau has to take the risk of being wrong and warned the nation the in advance,” he said.

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