Bureau of meteorology's grim new weather warning for the months ahead

·3-min read

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a bleak climate update for the months ahead as La Niña's expected retreat stalls.

In its most recent Climate Driver Update, BoM warned that although the 2021-2022 La Niña event is past its peak, it will continue to bring heavier than usual rainfall for longer than previously thought.

Stronger than average winds blowing east to west in the western Pacific have delayed the further weakening of the La Niña over the past two weeks.

So even as La Niña weakens, it will continue to influence global weather and climate.

"La Niña events increase the likelihood of tropical cyclones within the Australian region, as well as increasing the chances of above average rainfall across large parts of eastern Australia during autumn," the BoM said.

Australia's weather will remain wet on the east coast as La Nina lingers.
La Niña is past its peak, but the weather event is still not over. Source: Getty

Late autumn could see return to normal

As for when we will see neutral El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) levels, which is neither La Niña nor El Niño, the latest outlook suggests we will have to wait for late autumn here in the southern hemisphere.

The BoM further explains that oceanic indicators over the Pacific Ocean persist at La Niña levels, though persistent strong [east to west] trade winds have been driving the cooling to La Niña levels of the central tropical Pacific.

"This has also cooled water beneath the surface, pausing the warming trend seen during January and February," the Bureau said.

"Warming below the surface of the Pacific Ocean typically foreshadows a breakdown in La Niña, and usually occurs in the southern hemisphere autumn."

The east coast of Australia was devastated by floods, thanks to La Niña. Source: AAP
The east coast of Australia was devastated by floods, thanks to La Niña. Source: AAP

More rain as eastward 'pulse' strengthens

While La Niña is weakening, the the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) is strengthening over the Indian Ocean.

The Bureau explains the MJO is an "eastward moving 'pulse' of cloud and rainfall near the equator that typically recurs every 30 to 60 days" and it's heading near Australia in the coming week.

Over the next few days, it is expected the MJO will move north of Australia, into the region between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Usually, when the MJO is situated in that area, there is an increased chance of above-average cloudiness and rainfall across northern Australia.

"The risk of tropical cyclone development is also expected to be elevated across parts of northern Australia and the tropical South Indian Ocean in the coming fortnight," BoM said.

What does this mean for Australia?

The Bureau has forecast rainfall to be above average for most of northern and eastern Australia from April to June.

The areas which could experience a wetter than normal autumn include the Northern Territory, Queensland south-east South Australia and most of NSW.

While parts of Australia's east coast are still recovering from widespread, devastating flooding, the risk will remain high in the coming months.

"High stream flows, wet soils and forecasts of above average rainfall means the risk of widespread flooding across parts of eastern Australia remains high," BoM Meteorologist Dean Narramore said.

Parts of Australia could see higher than average rainfall between April and June this year. Source: Bureau of Meteorology
Parts of Australia could see higher than average rainfall between April and June this year. Source: Bureau of Meteorology

The Bureau also expects maximum temperatures in most of Western Australia, northern and central Northern Territory, Queensland, northern and southern NSW, south-east South Australia and Tasmania to be above average.

From 1910 to 2020, Australia's climate has warmed by about 1.47C and the Bureau said climate change is continuing to influence Australia's climate.

"Rainfall across northern Australia during its wet season (October–April) has increased since the late 1990s," the Bureau said.

"In recent decades there has been a trend towards a greater proportion of rainfall from high intensity short duration rainfall events, especially across northern Australia."

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