It’s rain for now but dry ahead
THE wet season appears to be locking down in the tropics this year after a few false starts over the past few years – but it may well not be a sure thing.
Last year Australia came out of an El Nino event – which explained the less-thaninspiring rainfall for 2016.
According to Bureau of Meteorology senior climate liaison officer Dr Jeff Sabburg, instead of shifting into a La Nina event as expected, we are in a neutral phase, where average rainfall is to be expected.
“There was some chance of going into a weak La Nina, but that didn’t happen,” said Dr Sabburg.
“So right now we’re neutral, and we’re expected to stay in neutral right through summer going into autumn.”
Dr Sabburg said that according to some of the international models for predicting the three phases, Australia will re-enter an El Nino phase in 2017.
“The bureaus model doesn’t say that, we’re expecting to stay neutral. But if anything its on the warmer, drier side of neutral.”
Dr Sabburg explained that during a neutral phase, weather conditions are harder to predict because during an El Nino, the bureau can have more confidence in drier conditions, and the same for wetter conditions during La Nina.
“If anything it’s a bit more difficult to predict the longer term under these conditions.”
According to Dr Sabburg shifting from El Nino to La Nina was not as simple as going back and forth, but there were patterns.
“You wont get El Nino’s following El Nino’s very often. I don’t think there’s many examples of that, but you can certainly get two La Nina’s in a row or two neutrals and a el nino straight into a la nina so there’s all sorts of combinations.”
Each cycle lasts for roughly a year from autumn to autumn.