Hot and dry days from El Nino set to hit later this year, say experts


PETALING JAYA: El Nino, the weather pattern that usually brings hot and dry days, is forecast to come later this year, say climatologists.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Earth Sciences and Environment Department chairman Prof Dr Fredolin Tangang said while it was still early to tell at this stage, experimental models tended to predict between a weak and a moderate El Nino.

The climatologist said in the next month or two, it would become clear where El Nino would be heading and that there was still a possibility that it would evolve to become a strong El Nino.

Referring to scientific forecasts issued by the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Centre (CPC) and the South Korean Apec Climate Centre (APCC) this month, Prof Fredolin said both centres were forecasting rapid diminishing of the current La Nina condition and switching into El Nino and the Southern Oscillation (Enso)-neutral condition by March to April 2023, but rapidly evolving into an El Nino condition.

The APCC forecast gave a 62% likelihood by July this year while the CPC issued a likelihood of 50% for El Nino to develop, he said.

“It’s a bit early to tell at this stage but models tend to predict a weak and moderate El Nino.

“Regardless of its strength, this El Nino, if it materialises, will continue to evolve throughout this year and early next year. It will decline by April to May next year if it follows the rhythm of a typical El Nino,” said Prof Fredolin.

More heavy rainfall, flooding and droughts would be expected, he said, adding that more heatwaves would also be experienced around the world during El Nino as almost the whole world would experience elevated increased temperatures on top of the elevated temperature due to global warming.

On the current northeast monsoon, Prof Fredolin said it was still active and there was always a possibility of cold surges as it was still January.

“Furthermore, La Nina is still active and this can elevate the likelihood of heavy rainfall episodes and flooding,” he said.

National Antarctica Research Centre climatologist Prof Datuk Dr Azizan Abu Samah said if El Nino were to set in as forecast in July to September, then drier than normal climate could be expected, especially during the southwest monsoon of 2024.

“Since El Nino conditions are forecast to kick in during the July to September period, there are chances of a mild northeast monsoon for 2023 and a drier southwest monsoon for 2024,” he said.

He said that during both La Nina and El Nino, there would still be the northeast monsoon. But for La Nina, the northeast monsoon wind is stronger, while for El Nino, the northeast monsoon tends to be weaker such as having less rain.

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