El Nino is officially declared in Australia: Here’s why it’s set to be a very hot and dry summer
Australia is on bushfire alert after the Bureau of Meteorology confirmed the onset of an El Nino weather pattern, raising the chances of a blistering hot and dry summer.
It follows a period of global weather records being broken and a series of natural disasters which has seen killer heatwaves and devastating floods in the northern hemisphere.
El Nino is the opposite of La Niña – which brings the floods seen in Australia in recent years – and causes hot, dry weather which can increase the risk of bushfires.
On Tuesday, the Bureau of Meteorology formally declared an El Nino weather event for Australia, two months after the World Meteorological Organisation announced a global El Nino was underway.
They also confirmed a positive Indian Ocean Dipole which will likely cause less rainfall in the west of Australia.
When the two combine, the double-whammy can be devastating.
Australia is on bushfire alert after the Bureau of Meteorology confirmed the onset of an El Nino weather pattern, raising the chances of a blistering hot and dry summer
‘Those conditions are accompanied by an increase in fire danger and extreme heat risk,’ BoM manager of Climate Services Karl Braganza said on Tuesday.
‘Both these climate drivers have a significant influence on the Australian climate, in particular favouring warmer and dryer conditions, particularly over spring, but also into early summer,
‘It’s really up to individuals and communities now to prepare for a summer of heat and fire hazards.’
Weatherman have been warning of a possible El Nino in Australia since May, but the BoM said they had been waiting for certain key markers before declaring it officially.
‘We were waiting another week to say that it has settled into that pattern,’ said Mr Braganza.
‘Given all of those indicators, and we really need to meet three of our four criteria to declare an event – that has been passed today.’
Australia is already suffering several bushfires on the east coast with homes evacuated in Queensland on Sunday and a huge fire sweeping through countryside close to Cessnock in NSW.
Area around Coles Bay and Friendly Beaches in Tasmania’s east were also evacuated on Tuesday after a bushfire there spread out of control and threatened local homes.
Weathermen are also warning of ‘catastrophic’ fire danger on the NSW south coast as high temperatures combine with unexpectedly high winds.
When an El Nino and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole combine, the effects can be devastating
Large parts of NSW and eastern Victoria are enduring maximum temperatures 10 to 15 degrees above the September average.
Damaging winds, driven by a cold front, are compounding the danger.
The front has triggered severe weather warnings for parts of South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and southern NSW, with the possibility of showers, storms, small hail and snow in some parts.
And while that will bring welcome relief from the heat in Victoria and NSW, the front will drive the extreme heat further north, into Queensland, with the effects most pronounced there on Thursday.
Fire dangers will also pick up across the state, particularly in the south, with the Channel Country expected to reach extreme fire dangers on Thursday and Friday.
‘We are in this run of very, very warm weather which hasn’t been seen in many, many years,’ said a BoM spokesman.
More to come
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