Australia declares La Niña weather event has begun

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Forbes, New South Wales was flooded last week.

Australia has said a La Niña event has developed for a second consecutive year, meaning there is a greater risk locally of floods and cyclones.

Last year, the weather phenomena contributed to “once-in-a-century” flooding in parts of Australia.

But La Niña can lead to significant weather changes in different parts of the world.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is yet to declare a La Niña but has warned one may re-emerge.

The Bureau of Meteorology of Australia (Bom) suggests that this year’s event might be more weak than usual.

“Climate models suggest this La Niña will be short-lived, persisting until the late southern hemisphere summer or early autumn 2022,” it said on Tuesday.

La Niña is described as one of the three phases of the weather occurrence known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This includes the warm phase called El Niño, the cooler La Niña and a neutral phase.

A La Niña develops when strong winds blow the warm surface waters of the Pacific away from South America and towards Indonesia. They are replaced by colder water at the surface.

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In Australia, La Niña increases the chance of cooler daytime temperatures – reducing the risk of heatwaves and bushfires.

It can also cause more tropical cyclones than usual, and it is likely to make the weather conditions wetter.

Queensland was warned this week about heavy rain and flash flooding. Floods caused evacuation alerts to be issued in Forbes, New South Wales, last week.

A family of young people was caught in torrential rains in South Australia, which also caused them to be stranded outback.

During the last La Niña, thousands of Australians were displaced amid flooding which caused over A$1bn (£540,000m; $720,000m) in damage.

La Niña can increase the risk of storms in Canada and the northern US, often leading to snowy conditions.

In the UK and Northern Europe, a very strong La Niña event may also lead to a very wet winter.

The WMO has said naturally occurring climate events like La Niña “now take place in the context of human-induced climate change”, which is “increasing global temperatures, exacerbating extreme weather and impacting seasonal rainfall patterns.”

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has already warned that a La Niña will extend through the northern hemisphere winter into early spring.


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