Nena News

El Nino risk abates for 2019 – forecaster

(Montel) The likelihood of an El Nino weather pattern emerging this year has abated, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, in a forecast that potentially alters expectations of a mild northeast Asian summer.

The bureau reset its El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) outlook to inactive this week, a grade down from the El Nino watch it was still predicting earlier this month. 

“While the possibility of El Niño can't be completely ruled out for 2019, the tropical Pacific Ocean is more likely than not to remain in an ENSO-neutral phase over the coming months,” the BoM said. 

El Nino summers normally mean cooler than normal temperatures for North Asia, home to the world’s biggest coal and LNG importers, and a weaker rainy season in the Pacific. The inverse occurs under the opposite weather phenomenon, La Nina. 

A coal analyst with a European energy firm said the “first implication” of a reduced El Nino risk would be the potential for production or export disruptions, “assuming normal rainy seasons develop in both countries”.

“But neutral conditions do not have to translate into flooding, it just implies El Nino’s disappearance could bring some risk on the supply side in the last months of the year,” she said.

Lack of consensus 
Other national meteorological services are yet to revise their expectations of a continued weak El Nino pattern. 

Both the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Japan Meteorological Agency forecast earlier this month El Nino to continue into the northern hemisphere autumn. 

“The majority of international government agencies and climate models are predicting weak El Nino conditions to continue through the second half of 2019,” said meteorologist Rob Davis at Metraweather. “However, this is not a unanimous opinion, and uncertainty grows through late 2019.”

The persistence of weak El Nino conditions implied “near-to-below normal temperatures and humidity levels for much of North Asia during Summer-Autumn 2019”, with a slightly less active Australian tropical cyclone season from November, Davis added. 

“A reduced chance of El Nino means a greater chance of La Nina, and therefore a higher likelihood of supply disruptions [due to flooding],” said Hans Gunnar Nåvik, senior analyst with Oslo-based StormGeo, noting the main areas to be affected would be north-eastern Australia, Indonesia and Colombia.

“It means more disruptions could be on the horizon.”

The likelihood of a La Nina emerging in the coming months still remained much lower than normal, though, said Davis.

“The transition to an ‘inactive’ ENSO Outlook doesn’t necessarily change this, as even the BoM’s own climate model predicts sea surface temperatures to confidently remain in neutral or slightly above-normal state.”

Reporting by:
Nathan Witkop
09:31, Wednesday, 26 June 2019