The Bureau of Meteorology has declared a La Nina event will occur this year, signalling a wet and stormy summer ahead.
La Nina is a weather phenomenon linked to the shifting pattern of sea surface temperatures through the Pacific and Indian Oceans, which impacts rainfall and temperature variations in Australia. Typically, La Nina is associated with heavier rainfall and increased numbers of tropical cyclones.
On the bright side, a rainier summer means the danger of bushfires decreases. But La Nina has in the past brought devastating storms, including in 2010-11 when Cyclone Yasi thrashed far north Queensland and caused millions of dollars in damage.
Meteorologists believe this summer will bring extreme weather, although of a different kind than last year.
“Generally, it’s the opposite of what we saw last year. We had the hottest and driest year on record, with a drought, devastating bushfires and dust storms coming through,” Sky News Weather channel’s chief meteorologist Tom Saunders said.
“With La Nina though, we can expect higher rainfall, higher risk of flooding, and also a higher risk of tropical cyclones.”
For Australia’s farmers, the increased rainfall so far this year has meant welcome relief from drought. But too much rain at the wrong time could deal another blow to the agricultural industry.
“Farmers love rain, but not when it’s harvest time,” Mr. Saunders said.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration already declared La Nina conditions were present earlier this month, using different measurements compared to those of the BOM.
La Nina can be considered the inverse of El Nino, and the former event often follows the latter. El Nino is associated with drier weather conditions, as seen during last summer’s extreme bushfire season.