El Nino Alert Abandoned as Australia Predicts Neutral Pacific

The risk of an El Nino in coming months dropped after indicators eased for the event that brings drought to Asia and heavier-than-usual rains to South America.

“Since late 2014, most ENSO indicators have eased back from borderline El Nino levels,” the Bureau of Meteorology said on its website, referring to the El Nino Southern Oscillation by its initials. The bureau lowered its outlook for the event to neural from alert.

For about a year, the Australian forecaster raised the possibility that an El Nino was on the way for the first time since 2010 before tempering their outlook as some indicators eased. The phenomenon, caused by periodic warmings of the Pacific, can roil world agricultural markets as farmers contend with drought or too much rain. The U.S. on Jan. 8 lowered the odds of the event developing in coming months.

“As the natural seasonal cycle of ENSO is now entering the decay phase and models indicate a low chance of an immediate return to El Nino levels, neutral conditions are considered the most likely scenario through into autumn,” the bureau said. “The immediate threat of El Nino onset appears passed for the 2014–15 cycle.”

Australia’s autumn runs from March to May. The bureau will maintain its neutral outlook unless observations and models indicate a heightened risk of either El Nino or La Nina, the Pacific Ocean’s cooler state, developing later this year.

The odds of El Nino conditions during the next two months are 50 percent to 60 percent, down from 65 percent last month, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said.

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