It’s rain for now but dry ahead

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Scott Tib­balls

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.

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