THE chance of an El Nino forming this spring is now three times the normal risk, but firefighters and farmers say they are not too worried yet.
The Bureau of Meteorology has this week revised its ENSO Outlook to ‘El Nino Alert’ with recent weather patterns indicating the early stages of this weather event could be underway.
Bureau manager of long-range forecaster Dr Andrew Watkins said if these conditions were to occur, the chances of drought-affected areas in eastern Australia making a recovery over the coming months would be lowered.
“Like everyone in the Australian community, the Bureau of Meteorology is hoping regions being affected by drought will recover soon,” he said.
“However, if an El Nino were to occur, we’re more likely to see drier and warmer than average conditions.”
NSW Farmers Association Bathurst branch president and cattle grazier David McKay said good rainfall this month has boosted the spirits of farmers and he was not too worried about an El Nino at this stage.
“We’ve had a couple of inches of growth [in the paddocks], but if it stops raining I’ll put them [his cattle] back on the oats,” he said.
“It’s not really thick, but it’s there.”
NSW Rural Fire Service Orana Superintendent Lyndon Wieland said firefighters were already prepared for the continuing warm, dry weather and an El Nino weather pattern.
“We’re prepared and ready as we’ve ever been to face what’s in front of us,” he said.
Supt Wieland said forested areas across the Orana region will be of greatest concern heading into the warmer months due to the lack of sub-soil moisture.
And, while there is very little grass growth due to the drought, he urged people to slash or graze grassed areas around any structures on their properties to minimise risk of damage during a fire.
So far this month 62.8 millimetres of rain has been recorded in Dubbo, which is well above the month’s average of 45.6mm, but Supt Wieland said it was far from enough to reduce concerns held by firefighters or farmers.
“I’d say 50 per cent of that rain would have run off because it was too heavy,” he said.
READ ALSO: Man loses arm in vehicle rollover
Dr Watkins sad the Bureau was closely monitoring developments in the Indian Ocean where a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event is being predicted by a number of international models.
“A positive IOD event would typically mean more widespread below average rainfall,” he said.
“However, if a positive IOD event was to develop we would expect to see it disappear by the end of spring with the onset of the northern monsoon.”
An El Nino event typically ends around autumn.