Low Chance of El Nino Dave McRae Qld Climate Change Centre of Excellence 15/05/07
Sea-surface temperatures (SST) in the Pacific Ocean remain close to average following the breakdown of the 2006/07 El Nino event. As well the trade winds and Pacific cloud patterns are currently in a neutral pattern.
The SOI which did drop to strongly negative values during April has recovered somewhat over the last few weeks. While disconcerting there will be little impact if the SOI returns to near zero or better still, strongly positive before the end of May.
These conditions, combined with the climate model output indicates the continuation of a neutral climate pattern is the most likely outcome although there is now a higher than normal chance of a La Nina climate pattern developing. The positive news is that there is only a low risk of a return to El Nino conditions in 2007.
For more information try the latest ENSO wrap-up available at www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/ from the Bureau of Meteorology.
While the end of the El Nino is usually associated with a return to more normal rainfall patterns, it should not be seen as an automatic start to drought-breaking rains.
This particularly applies to eastern and southern Australia, which in some instances will require several years of good rainfall to recover. References in the general media about impending floods in the next couple of weeks due to the breakdown of the El Nino should be taken with a large grain of salt especially for northern Australia.