Given the recent publicity in the media about the potential development of an El Niño around autumn 2002 it must be stressed that it is still early days, especially given the volatility of climate patterns over autumn. Therefore while sea temperature patterns in the Pacific are currently "primed" in a classic pre-El Niño pattern, there is still a fair way to go before an El Niño develops. In the mean time QCCA staff will continue to monitor the situation closely.
As it is still a little early to provide a definite prediction of an El Niño for 2002 I would like to highlight our recommendation to keep track of the sea surface temperature patterns and any shifts in the monthly value of the SOI over the next few months. It may also be a suitable time for readers to consider what any repercussions and/or benefits an El Niño could mean to their businesses.
It should also be noted that we do not have to have a 'classic El Niño event' to reduce rainfall in some parts of Queensland. A warmer than normal sea-surface temperature pattern in the central equatorial Pacific (and coexisting negative SOI pattern) can form and negatively influence our rainfall patterns without there being a 'classic El Niño' in existence.
The 30day average of the SOI has risen since the start of the month and as of the 22nd January was -1.1.