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High chance of El Nino as BOM raises outlook to ‘alert’ level


Australia is most likely headed for an El Nino weather pattern meaning hotter and drier conditions in the country’s east than have been felt for several years.

The Bureau of Meteorology is now forecasting a 70 per cent chance of El Nino occurring and on Tuesday officially raised its outlook from “watch” to “alert”.

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During El Nino, there is a higher chance of drier weather in eastern Australia, and the southern two-thirds of the country are likely to be warmer than usual.

Bureau senior climatologist Catherine Ganter said climate models and indicators pointed to El Nino occurring, including warmer temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.

“While our El Nino alert criteria have been met, these changes will need to strengthen and sustain themselves over a longer period for us to consider an El Nino event,” Ganter said.

As well as less rainfall in eastern Australia, during El Nino the country can expect to see increased bushfire danger, increased risk of extreme heat, decreased alpine snow depths, a later start to the northern wet season and reduced tropical cyclone numbers.

Earlier this year it was confirmed the sister weather pattern, La Nina, which brings wetter conditions to Australia’s east had ended after three years over which the country experienced record floods.

What is El Nino?

El Nino occurs on average every three to five years and relates to changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean that affect global weather.

Ganter said it is very likely the tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures will reach El Nino levels during winter.

“The Bureau’s long-range winter forecast is for drier and warmer conditions across almost all of Australia and the climate conditions in the Pacific Ocean are already factored into our forecasts,” Ganter said.

“The long-range forecast for winter also shows an increased chance of below average rainfall for almost all of Australia and the move to El Nino alert does not change this forecast.”

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Source: 7News