Australia expects wetter than usual autumn as La Nina lingers

The forecast is a boost to Australian wheat farmers who will sow crops in April. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australia will receive above-average autumn rains in its grain-growing eastern regions, helped by La Nina, although the weather phenomenon has passed its peak, the weather bureau said on Thursday (Feb 25).

Summer has been wetter than usual due to La Nina, which typically brings more rainfall and cooler temperatures than average in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

"The tropical Pacific Ocean is forecast to return to neutral conditions ... during autumn, consistent with the typical lifecycle of La Nina events," Ms Naomi Benger, an official of the Bureau of Meteorology, said in a statement.

"However, it is not uncommon for the effects of La Nina to still be felt as the event declines. That means an increased chance of above average rainfall, particularly for eastern regions."

The forecast is a boost to Australian wheat farmers who will sow crops in April.

Last week, Australia's chief commodity forecaster said the 2020/21 season would bring a record wheat harvest, after heavy rains boosted yields in key producing regions in the east.

A more neutral rainfall profile has been forecast for the other regions in autumn, which runs from Feb 1 to April 30 in the southern hemisphere, while nights are likely to be warmer than average over large areas.

La Nina events normally run about a year, with the last persisting from 2010 to 2012, bringing widespread floods in one of Australia's wettest two-year periods on record.

Until now, the 2020-21 summer has been the wettest in four years, with December the third-wettest month since national records began in 1900, while summer temperatures are on track to be the lowest in 10 years.

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