Climate Predictions


Meteorologists are divided over whether the 2015-16 El Niño has been the most severe on record but there's no denying it was very strong and brought an array of unusual weather patterns to the Pacific from mid-2015. These patterns included an extremely rare Southern Hemisphere cyclone in the Solomon Islands July (TC Raquel) and an unheard of Northern Hemisphere Hurricane in the Central Pacific in January (Hurricane Pali). This has since been followed by the El Niño fueled Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston which circled the South Pacific before hitting Fiji with devastating force in late February 2016, killing 44 people and affecting around 40 per cent of the population. 

The latest NIWA ENSO Update in May suggests that the El Niño has now deteriorated and the chances of a La Niña event developing are increasing.

"International guidance indicates that neutral ENSO conditions are very likely (76% chance) over the next three month period (May – July 2016), as a whole. The likelihood of La Niña development increases into early spring, with a 52% chance over August – October 2016 , and the likelihood increases further in early summer (60% over November 2016 – January 2017).” NIWA said.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology ENSO Outlook remains at La Niña WATCH.

"The tropical Pacific Ocean has recently returned to a neutral El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) state following substantial cooling across much of the equatorial region. Atmospheric indices have also returned to neutral levels. International climate models indicate further cooling in the tropical Pacific Ocean is likely, with most models suggesting sea surface temperatures will reach La Niña thresholds by August 2016. A La Niña WATCH status means there is approximately a 50% chance of La Niña developing in 2016, which is about twice the normal likelihood," the BOM said.In terms of likely rainfall, the Latest NIWA Island Climate Update says below normal rainfall is forecast for the southern Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, southern Vanuatu, Fiji, northern Vanuatu and the Federated States of Micronesia. Above normal rainfall is forecast for the northern Cook Islands, Tokelau, Tuvalu and the Marquesas. Above normal sea surface temperatures are forecast for the Marquesas.






(Sources: Nadraki Weather, Australian Bureau of MEteorology, NIWA)