Scorching temperatures in the eastern states over the holiday weekend are just a taster of what is to come as the El Niño weather pattern threatens to turn into a ‘super’ event even before Australia’s summer starts.
A previous ‘super’ event in Australia led to one of Victoria’s driest-ever summers in 1997-1998 and the coming summer is predicted to be even worse.
With Sunday’s NRL Grand Final set to be hottest ever as the mercury soars to 36C in Sydney, it already feels like summer and there are increasing fears of a repeat of the devastating bushfires seen from October 2019 to February 2020.
El Niño is the opposite of La Niña – which brings the floods seen in Australia in recent years – and causes hot, dry weather and increases the risk of bushfires.
While the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) only finally declared Australia was in an El Niño pattern last week, it followed a period of global weather records being broken, killer heatwaves and devastating floods in the northern hemisphere.
Scorching temperatures in the eastern states over the holiday weekend are just a taster of what is to come as the El Niño weather pattern threatens to turn into a ‘super’ event even before Australia’s summer starts. Two women are pictured on Sydney’s Bondi beach
And now, the US National Center for Atmospheric Research’s latest forecast has warned it could reach the ‘super’ El Niño strength levels previously linked to devastating drought and bushfires.
‘Those conditions are accompanied by an increase in fire danger and extreme heat risk,’ Dr Karl Braganza, BoM’s manager of climate services, said.
‘Both these climate drivers have a significant influence on the Australian climate, in particular favouring warmer and dryer conditions, particularly over spring, but also into early summer.
‘It’s really up to individuals and communities now to prepare for a summer of heat and fire hazards.’
The Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Atmospheric Physics has also warned about what is coming.
‘In addition to the surge in surface temperatures, the strong El Niño in 2023-2024 is predicted to trigger a cascade of climate crises,’ Professor Zheng Fei said.
‘This summer will be hotter than average, and certainly hotter than the last three years,’ Dr Braganza told news.com.au.
‘Importantly, with the El Niño now settling into that pattern in the Pacific Ocean, that increases our confidence that this pattern is going to last until the end of summer.’
The northern hemisphere’s summer of 2023 was the hottest since records began, with hundreds of millions of people affected as heat waves slammed Europe, Japan and the US south-west.
The city of Phoenix, Arizona hit 43 degrees or higher for 54 days over summer, including every day of July.
There are increasing fears of a repeat of the devastating bushfires (pictured) seen from October 2019 to February 2020
El Niño events are associated with a weakening, or even reversal, of the prevailing trade winds. Warming of ocean temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific causes this area to become more favourable for tropical rainfall and cloud development
A new BoM assessment said the atmosphere above the Pacific is attaching itself to rising Pacific Ocean surface temperatures.
‘This coupling is a characteristic of an El Niño event and is what strengthens and sustains an event for an extended period.
‘El Niño typically leads to reduced spring rainfall for eastern Australia,’ the Bureau warned.
An El Niño weather pattern usually peaks in December, but the coming summer is not typical.
‘Climate models indicate this El Niño is likely to persist until at least the end of February.
‘El Niño typically leads to reduced spring and early summer rainfall for eastern Australia, and warmer days for the southern two-thirds of the country.’
With Sunday’s NRL Grand Final set to be hottest ever as the mercury soars to 36C in Sydney, it already feels like summer. A weather map of Australia is pictured
Australia’s weather is also affected by the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). A ‘positive’ dipole is when the ocean is hotter off the coast of Africa than off Indonesia.
‘A positive IOD typically leads to reduced spring rainfall for central and south-east Australia,’ the B0M said.
‘All models predict this positive IOD will persist to at least the end of spring.
‘When a positive IOD and El Niño occur together, their drying effect is typically stronger and more widespread across Australia.’
FOUR DAY AUSTRALIA FORECAST
Sunday: Becoming windy. Sunny. Max 29.
Monday: Partly cloudy Min 7 – Max 28.
Tuesday: Becoming windy. Partly cloudy. Min 13 – Max 29.
Wednesday: Showers. Min 12 – Max 24.
Sunday: Becoming windy. Mostly sunny. Max 36.
Monday: Mostly sunny. Min 16 – Max 24.
Tuesday: Sunny. Min 16 – Max 34.
Wednesday: Shower or two developing. Min 20 – Max 30.
Sunday: Sunny. Possible storm. Max 34.
Monday: Sunny. Possible storm. Min 23 – Max 34.
Tuesday: Sunny. Min 23 – Max 33.
Wednesday: Mostly sunny. Min 24- Max 33.
Sunday: Sunny. Possible storm. Max 27.
Monday: Sunny. Possible storm. Min 15 – Max 28.
Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Min 17 – Max 27.
Wednesday: Possible shower. Min 18 – Max 27.
Sunday: Partly cloudy. Possible storm. Max 22.
Monday: Sunny. Possible storm. Min 7 – Max 28.
Tuesday: Showers. Min 18 – Max 23.
Wednesday: Showers. Min 10 – Max 15.
Sunday: Cloud clearing. Max 21.
Monday: Sunny. Possible storm. Min 11 – Max 31.
Tuesday: Shower or two. Min 14 – Max 20.
Wednesday: Showers. Min 9 – Max 16.
Sunday: Shower or two. Becoming windy. Max 21.
Monday: Showers easing. Wind easing. Min 13 – Max 18.
Tuesday: Cloudy. Min 11 – Max 20.
Wednesday: Sunny. Min 9 – Max 23.
Sunday: Shower or two. Becoming windy. Max 20.
Monday: Mostly sunny. Min 6 – Max 22.
Tuesday: Possible shower. Min 11 – Max 21.
Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Min 7 – Max 16.