Air of uncertainty on El Nino

TASMANIANS may be able to breathe a sigh of relief, with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting an El Nino effect to sweep the state in the coming month, bringing with it ``warmer'' winter temperatures.

While there is no guarantee of its formation at this stage, climatologist Ian Barnes-Keoghan said the weather patterns had all the signs and expected temperatures in the Pacific Ocean to continue to rise.

An El Nino was a rise in ocean temperatures that creates a rapid change in weather activity, he said.

``We have the precursors in place and everything is starting to line up, but the event hasn't definitely begun yet,'' Mr Barnes-Keoghan said.

``What we usually see is that eastern and northern Australia get less rain during El Nino and that includes eastern and northern Tasmania as well.

``It normally tends to be a bit warmer during El Nino for our part of the world.

``It certainly won't be tropical though and it doesn't rule out individual cold days and nights.''

Mr Barnes-Keoghan said there was still an air of uncertainty, however.

``There's no certainty that we'll get one, but the signs are all there. Sometimes the climate system baffles us a bit.

``We've had some reasonably wet El Nino events, 2009 was a classic one for that.

``Some of our most extreme dry conditions, such as 2006, have been El Ninos as well.''

But statistics were in the state's favour, the climatologist continued.

``About 70 per cent of the time when we see this activity, an El Nino forms.

``We'll keep an eye on it over the next month or so,'' Mr Barnes-Keoghan said.

Autumn leaves on trees at Royal Park. The months ahead may be a little warmer than normal if an El Nino develops as predicted. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

Autumn leaves on trees at Royal Park. The months ahead may be a little warmer than normal if an El Nino develops as predicted. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

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