The NINO3.4 index is one of several El Niņo/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indicators based on sea surface temperatures.
NINO3.4 is the average sea surface temperature anomaly in the region bounded by 5°N to 5°S, from 170°W to 120°W. This region has large variability on El Niņo time scales, and is close to the region where changes in local sea-surface temperature are important for shifting the large region of rainfall typically located in the far western Pacific.
An El Niņo or La Niņa event is identified if the 5-month running-average of the NINO3.4 index exceeds +0.4°C for El Niņo or -0.4°C for La Niņa for at least 6 consecutive months.
Towns in Queensland's south-east are being hit by storms, but Brisbane has escaped much of the rainfall and the weather is no longer regarded as severe.
The start of spring has been unusually dry across most of New South Wales.
The Queensland Rural Fire Service says fires on parts of the state's coast will burn hotter and faster this season due to the ongoing dry.