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The rains are coming, at least for a while

The rains are coming, at least for a while

Published:06 December 2017

CQUniversity Adjunct Professor of Environmental Geography Stephen Turton.

This week’s good rainfall around Queensland could be a sign of what we can expect over the next three months after the Bureau of Meteorology yesterday confirmed that the tropical Pacific has finally reached La Niña levels.

CQUniversity’s climatologist and Adjunct Professor of Environmental Geography, Steve Turton, explained that the La Niña would potentially bring a combination of active monsoons in the north and dry, fire weather in the south east of the country this summer.

“With this week’s La Niña confirmation we have a good chance of a solid wet season for northern Australia, providing much needed rain for drought affected areas of northern and central Queensland, while the south east of Australia may be susceptible to heat waves and fire weather events,” explained Professor Turton.

“All the indicators are now there. Signs of a La Niña in the region have increased during the months of spring and the central to eastern tropical Pacific Ocean have cooled since winter. This all means that we are now at La Niña thresholds.

“It’s unusual for a La Niña to occur so late in the year which suggests it will be short-lived.

“At this stage we believe it will last until late February and will enhance the wet season rain across areas north of Capricorn.

“Widespread continental-scale rain in unlikely; so not much good news for drought-plagued south east of Australia.

“We won’t be looking at something like the back-to-back 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 La Niña events which caused major flooding to parts of Queensland. This will be a much weaker event.

“In fact, a weak La Niña could mean a high risk of heatwaves and fire weather in the south-east of the continent.”

He says despite the potential for good rain in the north, it won’t change the cyclone outlook which suggests a typical season.