Twenty-four provinces in the Philippines are likely to face the threat of drought by the end of February due to the El Niño phenomenon, the country's weather bureau said.

In its latest advisory, PAGASA said that the likelihood of below-normal rainfall conditions due to a 'strong and mature' El Niño remains high.

Most of the country has a 45 to 50% chance of experiencing below normal rainfall in February, except Bukidnon, Davao region, and Caraga seeing near normal rainfall conditions.

According to PAGASA, Abra, Apayao, Aurora, Bataan, Benguet, Cagayan, Cavite, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Isabela, Kalinga, La Union, Metro Manila, Mountain Province, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Pangasinan, Quirino, Rizal, Zambales, and Negros Occidental could be grappling with meteorological drought by the end of the month.

Drought occurs when there is significantly below normal rainfall conditions for three straight months.

Meanwhile, Batangas, Laguna, Masbate, Oriental Mindoro, Antique, Biliran, Capiz, Cebu, Eastern Visayas, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Samar, Lanao del Norte, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi may experience dry spell, or three consecutive months of below normal condition.

Dry conditions, or two consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition, may affect Bulacan, Bohol, Siquijor, Southern Leyte, Camiguin, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has directed government agencies to fast-track the completion of water-related projects to mitigate potential water shortages.

Surges of cold temperature

PAGASA noted that near average to warmer than average air temperatures are forecast over the country, except in Batanes, Camarines Norte, Romblon, Masbate, Bohol, Southern Leyte, and South Cotabato, where cooler temperatures are expected.

'Moreover, surges of cold temperatures may still occur during the month due to the northeast monsoon,' it said.

The weather systems that will likely affect the country this month include the northeast monsoon, localized thunderstorms, shear line, easterlies, and low pressure areas.

Up to one tropical cyclone may enter or develop in the Philippine Area of Responsibility. The country may see fewer storms in 2024 than the average of 20, as it did last year, due to El Niño.

El Niño may persist until the March-April-May season, the weather agency said.

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