Warnings of blistering heat and severe drought are growing as Australia braces for a potential nightmare bushfire season.
A hot and dry weather pattern is likely, particularly across eastern states, with experts warning an El Nino event could produce below-average rainfall in the lead up to spring and summer.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s climate manager Karl Braganza on Wednesday said there was a 70 per cent chance of El Nino in coming months.
“Our rainfall and temperature outlooks strongly reflect that kind of a forecast with dry conditions on the horizon, particularly over the next three months or so,” Mr Braganza said.
During El Nino there are changes in sea surface temperature patterns across the tropical Pacific Ocean.
Mr Braganza said while extreme weather was likely, the bureau did not expect a repeat of the 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires.
“Hopefully with a little bit of moisture out there leading into it, we don’t see similar scenes to what we saw in 2019,” he said.
Victoria, NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania are vulnerable to El Nino.
Some international agencies such as the World Health Organisation have already declared an El Nino event.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Lissa Schindler said she was concerned for the health of the Great Barrier Reef because the conditions could cause marine heatwaves and coral bleaching.
“Climate change is driving more frequent and intense weather patterns and remains the greatest threat to the Reef,” Dr Schindler said.
“Both the Australian and Queensland governments must urgently slash emissions to protect the Reef and the 64,000 livelihoods that depend on a healthy Reef.”
It follows La Nina’s three-year reign across the globe in 2020, which had the opposite effect of bringing heavy rain and record floods across parts of the country.
El Nino conditions are expected to make 2024 the world’s hottest year on record.
(Australian Associated Press)