BoM: Likelihood of El Nino in 2017 increasing

THE Bureau of Meteorology has upgraded its outlook status to El Nino watch, meaning the likelihood of an El Nino forming in 2017 is at approximately 50%.

El Nino refers to the extensive warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific that leads to a major shift in weather patterns across the Pacific.

The Bureau's ENSO (an alert system for the El Nino-Southern Oscillation) remains neutral.

However, recent changes in both the tropical Pacific Ocean and atmosphere, and climate model outlooks surveyed by the bureau, prompted the El Nino watch on February 28.

It had been "inactive" since December 2016, meaning an ENSO event was not active in the tropical Pacific Ocean and there were no signs of El Nino or La Nina developing.

A BoM spokesperson said typically El Nino meant a reduction in rainfall, as the oceans near Australia were cooler than usual, along with warmer than usual days (a result of reduced cloudiness), however no two El Nino or La Nina events were the same.

"The autumn outlook for the Lockyer Valley suggests that the chances of a wetter or drier three months is roughly equal, and the median rainfall from March to May is 159 millimetres," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the temperature outlook for autumn in the Lockyer Valley showed more than a 70% chance of warmer than usual days and nights.