The Bureau of Metrology (BOM) has upped the chances of El Niño
in the coming year from ‘watch’ to ‘alert’ – the final stage before declaring the weather event.
could see temperatures rise throughout Australia and could pose a drought risk for some areas and the BOM has warned that the likelihood of El Nino now stands at 70%.
“Ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific continue to be warmer than average, trade winds remain weaker than normal, and all models surveyed suggest further ocean warming will occur.
“As a result, the Bureau’s ENSO Tracker has been raised to El Niño ALERT, indicating at least a 70% chance of El Niño occurring this year.”
The BOM noted that sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are “now just shy of El Niño
levels,” which increases the odds of the event developing as quickly as June.
“Large areas of warmer than average water below the surface are likely to keep these waters warm for some time. This increases the odds of atmospheric factors coming into play, and hence further warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean.
“All international climate models monitored by the Bureau indicate that El Niño thresholds will be reached or exceeded by June. However, the accuracy of model outlooks during the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) transition period is lower than for outlooks made at other times of the year.”
The predicted El Niño
could trigger “below-average winter and spring rainfall,” and above-average temperatures across Australia eastern and southern Australia, the BOM warned.
“However, April to June is likely to be wetter than average across much of Australia due to very warm conditions in the Indian Ocean.”
Nine of Australia’s ten driest winters on record occurred during El Niño
including severe droughts brought on by 28% lower rainfall in parts of Australia in 1982, 1994, 2002 and 2006.