Australia weather bureau sees reduced El Nino threat

While sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean remain close to El Nino levels, water beneath the surface has slowly cooled over the past few months, said Australia's weather bureau.
While sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean remain close to El Nino levels, water beneath the surface has slowly cooled over the past few months, said Australia's weather bureau. PHOTO: ST FILE

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - A recent cooling of the Pacific Ocean has reduced the threat of an El Nino weather event developing this year, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on Tuesday (May 14).

While sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean remain close to El Nino levels, water beneath the surface has slowly cooled over the past few months, BOM said.

As a result, there is now a 50 per cent chance of an El Nino developing, down from previous forecast of 70 per cent, BOM added.

An El Nino weather event can trigger floods and drought in different parts of the world, and is associated with warmer, dry weather across the Asia-Pacific.

El Ninos are particularly damaging to Australia, with the last one in 2015-2016 cutting agricultural production in the country - among the world's largest exporters of wheat, sugar and beef.

The weather outlook comes at a time when dry conditions have wilted crops and pasture in Australia's east coast, leaving many farmers struggling to survive.