Australia has reached El Niño levels for the first time since March 2010, according to the Bureau of Metrology (BOM).
The BOM believes that parts of the country can now expect below average rainfall throughout the second half of the year with warmer temperatures affecting the southern half of the country.
Neil Plummer, assistant director for climate information services at the BOM, noted that the weather event has come earlier than usual.
“The onset of El Niño in Australia in 2015 is a little earlier than usual. Typically El Niño events commence between June and November,” Plummer said.
“Prolonged El Niño-like conditions have meant that some areas are more vulnerable to the impact of warmer temperatures and drier conditions.
“The failed northern wet season in 2012–13, compounded by poor wet seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15, have contributed to drought in parts of inland Queensland and northern New South Wales,” Plummer continued.
Plummer noted that, while the El Niño is forecast to strengthen over the winter months, the strength of the El Niño does not correlate with the severity of drought that the country could experience.
However, David Jones, manager of climate monitoring and prediction at the BOM told the BBC
that this seasons El Niño could be “substantial.”
"This is a proper El Niño effect, it's not a weak one," Jones said.
"You know, there's always a little bit of doubt when it comes to intensity forecasts, but across the models as a whole we'd suggest that this will be quite a substantial El Niño event."
The recent spate of catastrophes that devastated parts of Australia will not be enough to stave off the dry conditions the country can expect over the coming months, Plummer advised.
“Recent significant rainfall and flooding along the east coast of Australia, associated with two almost back-to-back East Coast Lows, did not penetrate far into inland regions and therefore have done little to alleviate conditions in drought affected areas.”
Of the 26 El Niño events since 1990, 17 have resulted in drought and heavier than average rain forecast over May to July could help alleviate the severity of conditions, a statement from the BOM said.