Recently we’ve seen the La Nina phase dominating our weather patterns however it delivered two quite different summers to much of the country but with that now petered out and as we’re in a neutral phase this Winter, there are signs El Nino could be on our doorstep soonish.
The latest data from NOAA in the US shows there is a chance that El Nino could form however not all models are in agreement at this point.
Some are picking the neutral phase to continue on for some time yet whereas one or two are expecting the El Nino cycle to begin as early as August and September.
For us here in New Zealand El Nino often brings west to southwest winds and dries out some northern and eastern districts but more rain often falls over western and southern parts of the South Island.
The interesting thing is that there is no blueprint as such for these cycles as we’ve seen over the last couple of summers and they can vary to quite a degree.
This makes the forecasting side of it more of a challenge however each phase does seem to have its own tendencies and we cant start from there as a foundation when predicting certain weather cycles.
For farmers El Nino can be of a concern in areas from Gisborne down the eastern part of the country to North Otago, especially during the warmer months of the year.
Inland areas and also sheltered northern districts can also see a lack of moisture from time to time in the midst of El Nino.
North Otago had a severe drought in the summer of ’82/83 and also eastern areas suffered badly during the summer of ’97/98. Both of these were during an El Nino phase.
It doesn’t always mean a crippling drought will occur during weaker El Ninos and a few small fluctuations can deliver much needed rain to dry areas.
WeatherWatch.co.nz is watching these developments unfold and believes it’s pretty much a 50/50 call whether we enter a new phase or pretty much stay as we are in neutral territory.
We’ll deliver the latest information as it comes to hand over the upcoming weeks and months.