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El Nino in 2014 - what are the odds?

Sally Bryant, Thursday June 12, 2014 - 12:29 EST
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Professor Roger Stone, climate scientist on the likelihood of an El Nino. - ABC

Predictions that Australia is entering an El Nino weather pattern are having an impact on farmer confidence, as they contemplate the prospect of an increased risk of drought.

Seasonal conditions across NSW are best described as 'mixed'; the north western communities of Walgett and Lightning Ridge are still in the grip of drought, parts of the central west are in a 'green drought', with little or no water and pasture with little body in it.

And other farmers are saying they have as good a season as they've seen and they're quite upbeat as they go into winter.

However there's a frisson of nervousness as well, as climate scientists say, there are strong indications of a likely El Nino weather pattern developing in coming months, and that's not news to inspire hope in farmers across NSW.

Professor Roger Stone from the University of Southern Queensland says an El Nino weather pattern is not a guarantee of drought, and a strong El Nino pattern is not a guarantee of a severe drought - but it is an indicator of a likelihood of drier than normal conditions.

Professor Stone says other factors influence Australian weather, and all factors need to be taken into account to get as accurate a perspective of long term weather conditions as possible.

"The science is exact, but the interpretation of the science varies from agency to agency."

Professor Stone says there is still a good chance of rain for much of NSW, while the likelihood of rain in parts of Queensland is less.


© ABC 2014

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