Australia weather bureau says models show low chance of El Nino

Sydney | Reuters –– Weather models show a low chance of an El Nino, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said Tuesday, after indicators of the climate event eased in recent weeks.

El Nino — a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific — can prompt drought in Southeast Asia and Australia and heavy rains in South America, hitting production of food such as rice, wheat and sugar.

El Nino is also often associated with warmer-than-normal winters in Western Canada and the northern U.S., and cooler, wetter weather in the southern U.S. [Related story]

The BOM had previously forecast a 70 per cent chance that El Nino would arrive by February with indicators hovering close to El Nino thresholds for much of the second half of 2014. But climate indicators have eased in recent weeks, the bureau said.

“Central tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperatures have fallen by around half a degree from their peak of 1.1 C above average in late November,” it said in a statement.

The high Pacific Ocean temperatures in 2014 were a key determinant of the hot, dry weather across much of Australia, Asia, South America and southern Africa, the BOM had said in a statement in December.

Reporting for Reuters by Colin Packham in Sydney. Includes files from Network staff.

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