Farewell El Nino, say hello to La Nina

The rain soaking large parts of Australia may well continue across winter with predictions that changes in the climate is indicating a wet La Nina.

The Bureau of Meteorology declared an El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean in September last year with the climate model often bringing drier conditions and above average temperatures.

But dry conditions were limited across multiple states this year with the Northern Territory averaging 259.85mm of rain in March – the second highest on record since 1990 – while Far North Queensland and Western Australia also copped a soaking.

Now the El Nino weather event is ending, the bureau said.

The climate shift may be a few months away yet as sea surface temperatures remain warm but atmospheric indicators are beginning to change.

Sea surface temperatures remain the warmest on record globally since April 2023 which is affecting the historical modelling for declaring weather events such as El Nino or La Nina.

“Sea surface temperatures continue to increase, with temperatures in February 2024 setting a record for that month, and March 2024 on track to be the warmest March on record,” the bureau said.

The bureau said the central tropical Pacific Ocean will likely return to a neutral model (known as an El Nino Southern Oscillation or ENSO) – neither El Nino or La Nina – by the end of April while the rest of the ocean will reach the same by May.

There are also predictions a La Nina will return by late winter but forecasts will not be firm enough to declare until after May.

“El Nino and La Nina predictions made in early autumn tend to have lower accuracy than predictions made at other times of the year,” the bureau said.

“As the current global ocean conditions have not been observed before, inferences of how ENSO may develop in 2024 that are based on past events may not be reliable.”

La Nina conditions typically lend to higher rainfall totals and cooler average day time temperatures.


Savannah Meacham
(Australian Associated Press)


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