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El Niño officially comes to an end, what does neutral mean weather-wise?

El Niño has come to an official end, according to scientists at the Bureau of Meteorology – the climate experts across Australasia.

However, don’t expect the weather to change like a light switch. “The difference between a fading El Niño and the early to middle part of Autumn is very little, we’ll still get powerful highs and more westerlies in the weeks ahead” says head forecaster Philip Duncan. “The more we go towards winter the more likely we are to get lows and rainmakers and the ending of El Niño should mean fewer high pressure zones over the Tasman Sea to block rain into NZ”.

Duncan points out that the final week of the school holidays in NZ looks to be dominated by high pressure and that a number of eastern regions in both main islands remain much drier than usual for this time of year.

“We still need more rain, so shaking the official El Niño title feels uplifting and means we can focus more on the chaotic weather pattern in the NZ area, rather than the dreary long term forecast of windier and drier. We’ll be looking for rainmakers though, just as much as we were yesterday when El Niño was still officially here”.

Neutral conditions are now expected and that means, for NZ anyway, more chaos. “Anything can happen in neutral conditions, it might be drier, wetter, warmer or colder – our location on earth and our mountains and ranges mean we have real variety in our weather from week to week across our relatively small country”.

As for extra long range – La Niña may return later this year but it’s worth noting two of the previous three LN events brought drought across the North Island bigger than the recent El Niño event did. “NZ is mostly dominated by Southern Ocean or Roaring Forties weather patterns, and less so by the tropical zones, so while La Niña will be headlined breathlessly by other NZ outlets over the coming months WeatherWatch wants to just continue to remind NZers than no El Niño or La Niña is the same for our country and that our weather is often heavily dominated by systems to our west and south” says Duncan.

Model of all models shows neutral phase is back, El Niño is gone…but later in spring La Niña is possible.
Graphics courtesy of BoM


josh on 18/04/2024 12:27am

its true that la nina can bring drought to nth island. but it can also bring major flooding. like 2022/2023 la nina did. i hope nothing major for auckland again. or coromandel or gisborne or hawkes bay.

Anthony S Blears on 21/04/2024 9:27pm

Jeez, yes indeed. Kerikeri got 2.5m of rainfall that year.

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