El Niño is back
It’s official: Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has declared El Niño 2015. The ENSO Tracker, which is a status alert system that determines how far the weather surrounding Australia is tracking towards La Niña or El Niño weather conditions, was shifted to El Niño on Monday.
The El Niño Southern Oscillation (which operates opposite La Niña) is a weather event driven by temperature, wind and cloud, and is often an explanation for many of Australia’s extreme weather events, such as drought and floods. This effect is a result of the south eastern trade winds relaxing, therefore causing warm water to pool off the west coast of South America, resulting in a loss of regular rainfall in Australia, and therefore greater risk of drought.
Both American and Australian scientists have declared the El Niño effect to be approaching, however estimates of its strength have been varied, possibly due to the ineffectiveness of current measuring technology available to researchers. Australian BOM scientists have forecasted its arrival around September, as well as the possibility of a severe weather event as a result.
Although the possibility of a severe weather event seems quite scary, especially for Australians in rural NSW who are already suffering from drought on a daily basis, it is clear that there is no need to panic just yet. During the record-breaking temperatures experienced in 2014, a similar prediction was made, however weather conditions did not change in relation to the ENSO system. Urban residents will be comforted by Weatherwatch meteorologist Don White’s response to questions about dam capacity, following recent heavy rainfall in April, “the figure next week when you get the run-off from the next two days will almost certainly be over 90 per cent’. White has advised the public that the water in Sydney catchment areas is enough to last us ‘a couple of years”.