El Nino Increases Risk of Drier Spring in Eastern Australia

The strengthening El Nino and changing weather conditions in the Indian Ocean is increasing the chance of a drier than average October to December spring season in eastern Australia, according to the nation’s Bureau of Meteorology.

“The rainfall outlook for October has shown a significant shift towards a drier month nation-wide, with the southeast quarter of Australia indicating a less than 20 percent chance of exceeding median rainfall for the month,” the bureau said in a special update to its climate outlook released on its website on Wednesday.

U.S. forecasters have predicted the current El Nino may become one of the strongest ever recorded and last month increased the odds it will last through the Northern Hemisphere winter. The event can affect weather worldwide by baking Asia, altering rainfall across South America and bringing cooler summers to North America. El Nino has already caused crop losses in Central America and helped return palm oil prices to a bull market in Malaysia.

While eastern Australia is facing a greater than 80 percent chance of a drier than average October, eastern parts of Western Australia, the source of most of the nation’s wheat exports, have a slightly increased chance of a wetter than average three months, according to the bureau.

That comes after the third driest September on record, with very low rainfall over the past 12 months in southwest of Western Australia, southeast South Australia and most of Victoria, the bureau said.

The El Nino of 1997-98 was the strongest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There’s a 95 percent chance the weather pattern will continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter, up from a previous forecast of 90 percent, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said Sept. 10.