Letter | Clearing up long-range weather forecast facts

DON'T PANIC: The Bureau of Meteorology says the assumption that Australia will soon be heading into an El Nino weather phase is not correct.
DON'T PANIC: The Bureau of Meteorology says the assumption that Australia will soon be heading into an El Nino weather phase is not correct.

THE article "Eyes on the sky for El Niño" (Western Advocate, February 14) gives a somewhat incorrect view of the El Niño and La Niña climate phenomena.

It correctly refers to the Bureau of Meteorology saying that the current La Niña has peaked, but the assumption that Australia will soon be heading into an El Niño phase is not correct.

El Niño and La Niña are two of the three phases (the third being 'Neutral') of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is the swing between cooler than normal, normal, and warmer than normal temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

The changes in these temperatures drive weather patterns all around the world. ENSO is in the neutral range approximately 50 per cent of the time.

In this case, the La Niña is clearly in decline, and is expected to return to Neutral conditions during the southern hemisphere autumn.

At present there is no indication that tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures will then transition to El Niño during 2018.

You can keep up to date with our current thoughts on El Niño/Neutral/La Niña at the Bureau of Meteorology website: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/  

And also keep abreast of the current outlook for ENSO at: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/outlook/

Dr Andrew Watkins, manager of long-range forecasts, Bureau of Meteorology