Australians Downgrade El Nino Status to 'Watch'

By: Julianne Johnston

July  29,  2014

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology says warmer-than-normal waters persist in parts of the tropical Pacific, but some cooling in the central and eastern areas has shifted the status of El Nino from "alert" to "watch." This means the bureau sees around a 50% chance of El Nino developing.

"Despite the tropical Pacific Ocean being primed for an El Niño during much of the first half of 2014, the atmosphere above has largely failed to respond, and hence the ocean and atmosphere have not reinforced each other," states the bureau. "As a result, some cooling has now taken place in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, with most of the key NINO regions returning to neutral values."

But it reminds the establishment of El Nino before the year's end cannot be ruled out, although it's increasingly unlikely to be a strong event.

"El Niño is often associated with wide scale below-average rainfall over southern and eastern inland areas of Australia and above-average daytime temperatures over southern Australia. Similar impacts prior to the event becoming fully established regularly occur," says the bureau, which if realized, would be concerning for the country's wheat crop.