BOM says recent drought fears are ‘premature’

A RECENT claim by a University of Queensland climate professor that an El Nino is headed our way appears to be premature, says the Bureau of Meteorology.

Prof Roger Stone recently mentioned to ABC rural news that two climate models based in the US and Europe had hinted that a period of warming in the Pacific was building and that another El Nino could grip our nation before long.

An El Nino phase is generally associated with drier than usual conditions and can spark drought.

However, Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Acacia Peppler said the models that predicted wet and dry phases were notoriously unreliable at this time of year and the signals didn't ally become strong enough to read until the end of autumn.

"There does appear to be a weak warming phase in the Pacific but it is much too early to say for certain that we are heading into an El Nino," she said.

The last use of the Australian climate model - which involved running 100 scenarios and averaging the results - took place on January 2 and resulted in the prediction of a slight warming.

However, years in which neither El Nino nor La Nina dominate tend to occur more often than years with either wet or dry phases. So don't be surprised if we stay in neutral territory.

Meanwhile, the seasonal outlook for January to March indicates a 60% chance of drier than normal conditions and a 70% chance of being warmer.

No surprises there.

The last heatwave in the new year period broke records in the northwest that had stood for many years.

Walgett's recording of 49.1 degrees was the warmest since 1939.

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