Weather bureau's La Nina warning – it's over but not for long

It’s the news water-logged Aussies have been waiting to hear, but it’s come with a devastating blow.

La Nina, the weather system responsible for the wettest start to the year on record for most of the east coast, is officially over.

However it could be back again before 2022 is out.

“There is about a 50 percent chance of La Nina reforming sometime later in the year,” Dr Andrew Watkins, head of long-range forecasting at the Bureau of Meteorology, said.

“About half the models that we survey suggest that we could return to La Nina in the spring.”

Rain falling in a city (let) and a flood river (right)
2022's second La Nina may be officially over but experts predict Australia will see a third by the end of the year. Source: Getty

It’s a bittersweet update for thousands of Australians, up and down the country, who’ve been forced to battle repeat floods after two La Nina’s formed in the first six months of the year.

“While back-to-back La Ninas are not uncommon, in fact we get them about half the time since 1900, a three-year La Nina is less common and we’ve only seen three times since the middle of last century,” Dr Watkins said.

Wet weather warning

While the Bureau of Meteorology has its La Nina predictions set on spring, it’s announced a La Nina WATCH, warning the end is not in sight for Australians.

“La Nina WATCH does not change the outlook for wetter than average conditions over Australia over the coming months,” Dr Watkins said.

“[This reflects] a range of climate drivers including a developing negative Indian Ocean Dipole and warmer-than-average waters around Australia.

“Sea surface temperatures are currently warmer than average for much of the Australian coastline, particularly to the north and west. The pattern is likely to increase the chance of above average winter-spring rainfall for Australia.”

Australia “under-prepared” for La Nina hat-trick

With the country in line for a further deluge across its already saturated coast, the Climate Council argues Australia is “under-prepared” for more extreme rainfall and flooding.

“The former federal government failed to prepare communities for the east coast flooding disaster earlier this year, despite being warned,” Dr Simon Bradshaw, Director of Research, said.

“The new Labor government must take steps now to get ahead of another potential summer of increased flood risk for these communities.”

Many parts of Australia have recorded their highest rainfall on record this year. Source: Bureau of Meteorology
Many parts of Australia have recorded their highest rainfall on record this year. Source: Bureau of Meteorology

The Climate Council is calling for a greater fraction of disaster spending to be committed to preparedness and resilience building, and for the government to implement all of the 80 recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

“There is a chance to learn from failures of the past,” Dr Bradshaw said.

“We all hope another La Nina doesn’t eventuate but [it is] around a 50 per cent chance, or around double the normal likelihood, and should be taken seriously.”

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