BOM raises El Nino alert

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has revised its ENSO warning to “El Nino Alert”, meaning the likelihood of an El Nino weather event forming during the Spring period has increased to 70%, or roughly three times the normal risk.

The bureau has observed recent patterns in the Pacific Ocean, saying that patterns suggest that formation of an El Nino event may well be underway already.

Bureau of Meteorology manager of long-range forecasting Dr Andrew Watkins said if these conditions were to occur, the chances of drought-affected areas in eastern Australia making a recovery over the coming months would unfortunately be lowered.

"Like everyone in the Australian community, the Bureau of Meteorology is hoping regions being affected by drought will recover soon. However, if an El Niño were to occur, we're more likely to see drier and warmer than average conditions," Dr Watkins said.

During an El Niño event, warmer waters gather in the eastern Pacific Ocean with cooler waters closer to Australia. This typically means less precipitation and rainfall over the Australian continent. An El Nino event typically ends around Autumn.

The Bureau is also closely monitoring developments in the Indian Ocean where a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event is being predicted by a number of international models.

"A positive IOD event would typically mean more widespread below average rainfall. However, if a positive IOD event was to develop we would expect to see it disappear by the end of Spring with the onset of the northern monsoon."

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