What Are the Odds? Will Australia Be Hit With El Niño Weather This Year?

Last year’s La Niña made me the participant of many solo wet t-shirt competitions. And I was always the loser. Moreover, on a serious note, Australia’s La Nina also caused a lot of nasty flooding, damage, and debris.

To make matters worse, while on the decline, our La Niña is still kicking around in 2023. This can be demonstrated by the fact that both Queensland and Eastern NSW will be at a heightened risk of being flooded over the coming months. 

But when this La Niña is finally, finally over, will things go back to normal? Or will we become the victims of a dreaded El Niño? And while we’re on the subject, what are El Niños? Well, don’t fret, let’s answer these Q’s now. 

What Are El Niños?

The 2022 La Niña was a system that created cooler and wetter weather. El Niños do the opposite. They create drier and hotter weather.

In a place like Australia, El Niños are concerning as they can bring about droughts and bushfire conditions. Additionally, 2016’s El Niño was the hottest year Earth’s ever recorded. 

Related: WA, SA, and the NT Have Flooded — Here’s How You Can Help

Related: Will Australian Bushfires Return Now That La Niña is Declining?

What Are the Odds of a 2023 El Niño?

As of mid-January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put the odds of us being El Niño’s victims in August at 50/50. However, take this percentage with a grain of salt. Model accuracy is pretty low at this stage of the year and other places have different estimations. 

Andrew King, a Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the University of Melbourne, said, “Forecasts of El Niño are challenging several months in advance, but particularly at this time of year when they have to overcome the ‘autumn predictability barrier.’ In autumn, there is less variation in the Pacific Ocean’s temperature, and it’s harder to forecast if an El Niño or La Niña will emerge by winter.”

“We are by no means guaranteed a switch to El Niño, but there is a higher probability of an El Niño forming in the next few months than we’ve seen for several years.”

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