Australia updates El Nino status from 'watch' to 'alert'

by IANS |

Canberra, June 6 (IANS) Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) on Tuesday shifted its El Nino outlook from "watch" to "alert", suggesting that there was a 70 per cent chance of an El Nino event developing this year.

"While the models show it's very likely the tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures will reach El Nino levels during winter, we have seen some movement in the atmosphere towards El Nino conditions," said BOM Senior Climatologist Catherine Ganter.

"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.

During El Nino, there is a higher chance of drier weather in eastern Australia and it's more likely to be warmer than usual for the southern two-thirds of the country, reports Xinhua news agency.

But Ganter noted that even if an El Nino develops, its impact can vary depending on where people live, as well as from event to event.

On June 1, the BOM released its winter long-range forecast, noting that large areas of Australia are likely to see below-average rainfall along with warmer temperatures from June to August.

The change in the status from "El Nino Watch" to "El Nino Alert" did not affect the long-range forecast by the BOM.

"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," said Ganter.

"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," she added.

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