After one of the largest recent La Niña periods on record, which caused drought in the Pacific Island countries of Tuvalu and Tokelau, the Pacific Ocean is returning to a near normal state.

Normal climate patterns are expected across much of the Pacific for the next three months, but an El Niño could lurk on the horizon later this year, according to the latest Island Climate Update. The Island Climate Update is a three month outlook prepared by NIWA, the Pacific Island Meteorological Services and SPREP, using funding from NZAID.

However, slightly less rainfall is forecast over the next three months for some island groups such as Tuvalu, Samoa, Tokelau, the Northern Cook Islands, the Society Islands and Wallis and Futuna. There looks to be lightly more rainfall for others such as Western and Eastern Kiribati, Tonga, Niue and Papua New Guinea.

After two years of La Niña conditions which led to drought in Tuvalu, Tokelau and Samoa, the Pacific is expected to experience El Niño conditions after August this year. El Niño conditions usually cause less rainfall over many of the Pacific Islands, particularly in the western Pacific, and more rainfall near the equator in the central Pacific.
For more information, or if you would like to subscribe to the Island Climate Update, a monthly newsletter, please contact your National Meteorological Service.