The Solomon Islands Meteorological Service has announced the arrival of El Nino in the country following confirmation by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
El Niño is a temporary shift in weather patterns across the Pacific and the globe, driven by temperature changes in the ocean and it can lead to changes in seasonal temperature, rainfall, and even the number and severity of cyclones which hit our region.
“At this stage, it is too early to determine the strength of this El Niño event, but we're expecting to see some significant impacts regardless of the strength,” Mr Deputy Director of Met Services Lloyd Tahani.
In Solomon Islands El Niño is often, but not always, associated with below normal rainfall in parts of the country.
Mr Tahani said the strength of an El Nino does not always indicate how much it will influence Solomon Islands rainfall but historically, there are examples where weak events have resulted in mild droughts in some parts of the country while other times strong events have resulted in relatively modest impacts.
He added that during El Nino, temperatures during daytime tend to be above normal in parts of western, central and eastern regions.
“Now that El Niño thresholds have been reached, forecasters are confident that the stage is set for it to continue, and possibly intensify in 2015 as evident in the rapid rise in Ocean temperatures in the last few weeks,” Tahani said.
In the central and eastern Pacific, sea-surface temperatures are more than 1°C warmer than normal right across the key El Niño areas - a combination that has not been seen since the El Niño event of 1997.
Most El Niño events begin between May and September, peaking between December and February, and then decay around March to May. The most recent El Niño, in 2009-2010, was categorized as a weak-to-moderate event.
In 2014, tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures briefly reached El Niño levels, but only weaker coupled with the atmosphere, and hence the warmth in the Pacific Ocean dissipated quickly in early 2015. It has been considered a near-miss El Niño.
Affecting the Pacific for many years, El Niño and its counterpart La Niña come and go every three to seven years.
Source: Press Release, Government Communications Unit