Australian weather bureau sees 50% chance of La Nina this year

By Thomson Reuters May 14, 2024 | 2:07 AM

CANBERRA (Reuters) – There are early signs that a La Nina weather event may form in the Pacific Ocean later this year, Australia’s weather bureau said on Tuesday.

A La Nina would have significant consequences for global agriculture because it typically brings wetter weather to eastern Australia and southeast Asia and drier conditions to the Americas.

The bureau said it had declared a “La Nina Watch”.

“When La Nina Watch criteria have been met in the past, a La Nina event has subsequently developed around 50% of the time,” it said.

La Nina events result from cooler sea surface temperatures in the Pacific. Warmer sea surface temperatures can cause an opposite weather phenomenon called El Nino, which occurred last year and lasted into early 2024.

“Sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific have been steadily cooling since December 2023,” the bureau said.

“The Bureau’s modelling suggests that ENSO will likely remain neutral until at least July 2024,” it said, using the formal name, the El Niño Southern Oscillation, that describes the switch between the two phases.

Other forecasters have also heralded a La Nina later this year. Last week, Japan’s weather bureau said there was a 60% chance it would occur by November, and a U.S. government forecaster said there was a 69% chance that it would develop during July-September.

(Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Sonali Paul)