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Drought warning for Australia after record floods

After two years of heavy rain and record floods across eastern states, La Nina is finally over but authorities warn more extreme weather could be on the way in the form of a drought.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued an El Nino watch on Tuesday, after long-range forecasts revealed a 50 per cent chance of the warmer, drier weather pattern occurring this year.

More neutral weather is expected throughout autumn and winter, while hotter conditions could occur by summer, the Bureau of Meteorology's Andrew Watkins said.

"Long-range forecasts show there's an increased chance of below average rainfall for most of Australia during autumn 2023," Dr Watkins said.

"But the northern wet season, including the tropical cyclone season, for northern Australia continues during March and April, so there remains the chance of tropical weather systems bringing heavy rain at times to the north."

Authorities said the possibility of El Nino means an increased risk for bushfires.

There have been 27 El Nino events since 1900, and about 18 of those were affected by widespread winter-spring drought.

La Nina refers to the cool and often rainy phase of the ocean-atmosphere phenomenon meteorologists call the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), while El Nino is the warm, dry phase.