BOM: Neutral, but El Niño WATCH remains

7 Oct 2014

Tropical Pacific Ocean ENSO indicators remain within the neutral range, having failed to maintain sustained values typical of El Niño. However, given the persistent warmth in the tropical Pacific Ocean, models continue to suggest an El Niño remains possible during the last quarter of 2014.

Atmospheric indicators of El Niño have remained neutral over recent months. Tropical cloud patterns and trade winds have only had brief periods with El Niño-like values since May. Despite a recent drop into El Niño territory, the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has returned to neutral values over the past fortnight.

Model outlooks and current observations mean the Bureau’s El Niño WATCH remains in place, indicating double the normal chance (50%) of an El Niño over the coming months.

While still falling short of El Niño thresholds, the tropical Pacific Ocean remains warmer than average. When combined with recent cool water to the north of Australia, conditions favour below-average rainfall over much of Australia for the remainder of 2014.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has returned to neutral recently after being consistently negative since June. Climate models surveyed by the Bureau indicate neutral conditions are very likely to remain during the last quarter of 2014.