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What La Nina Means For Regional Australia

by The Editor

The Bureau of Meteorology has made it official, La Nina is here. Meaning we’re going to see a wet spring and summer for the end of 2020 and into 2021.

The last time La Nina affected the weather in Australia was the summers of 2010/11 and 2011/12 which ended up making 2010 to 2012 the wettest two-year period on record.

What causes La Nina?

At a very basic level, La Nina generally means wetter conditions for eastern and northern Australia. There is an increased chance of flooding and cyclones.

The experts at the BoM can explain it better.

“La Niña occurs when equatorial trade winds become stronger, changing ocean surface currents and drawing cooler deep water up from below. This results in a cooling of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. The enhanced trade winds also help to pile up warm surface waters in the western Pacific and to the north of Australia.

The warming of ocean temperatures in the western Pacific means the area becomes more favourable for rising air, cloud development and rainfall. As a result, heavy rainfall can occur to the north of Australia. Conversely, over the eastern and central tropical Pacific, air descends over the cooler waters, meaning the region is less favourable for cloud and rain. The air rising in the west and descending in the east enhances an atmospheric circulation – called the Walker circulation – which can result in changes to the climate felt across the globe.” – Bureau of Meteorology

Make sense? Excellent.

The video below is a good watch to understand the weather patterns further.

Will La Nina bring more rain than 2011?

It’s not expected that this La Nina event will bring more rainfall that the 2010 to 2012 period when Australia last saw it.

That one, was one of the four strongest La Nina events we’ve seen.

Most people will remember the major flooding that happened throughout Queensland during the last event, with Brisbane experiencing its worst flooding since 1974.

What does it mean for crops?

Large parts of eastern Australia have been experiencing drought conditions for the past few years, so any news of a rainy season ahead will be welcomed.

Generally, during late spring and early summer, dry conditions are needed to sow crops, it’s expected to be wetter than usual which could hamper the development of the crops.

It is not expected to be too wet come harvest time, however.

How long will La Nina stick around?

La Nina is already here and is predicted to stick around until well into the upcoming summer.


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Image credit: Clark Young

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