Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday there was a 70% chance of an El Niño weather pattern developing this year, usually associated with hot and dry weather. The Bureau of Meteorology said its weather models and indicators now met the criteria to raise the level from “watch” to “alert” for the possibility of an El Niño event.
“Although models show that tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures are likely to reach El Niño levels during the winter, we have seen some movement in the atmosphere toward El Niño conditions,” climatologist Kathryn Ganter said in a statement. “To be considered an El Niño event, these changes must be self-reinforcing and sustained over a longer period of time.”
The weather warnings come after Australia’s chief commodity forecaster said on Tuesday that winter crop production would fall from record highs due to expectations of drier weather ahead. In an El Nino pattern, drier conditions are more likely in the east of Australia, and warmer than usual across the southern two-thirds of Australia.
That could affect wheat production in Australia, the world’s second-biggest grain exporter, following three years of record or near-record production due to a rare and extended La Nina weather pattern that usually brings more rain.
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