Northern Victoria and southern Riverina farmers could be in for a dry winter and spring, as the Bureau of Meteorology puts itself on El Niño watch.
While the El Niño−Southern Oscillation remains neutral, the bureau says there is almost double the normal probability of an El Niño developing.
BOM long range forecasting services acting manager Robyn Duell said the majority of international climate models surveyed by the bureau forecast the tropical Pacific Ocean would continue to warm but remain in the neutral range during July and August.
‘‘Five out of eight models indicate that the ocean warmth is likely to reach El Niño thresholds in the Southern Hemisphere spring, while a sixth model falls just short,’’ she said.
During El Niño, rainfall in eastern Australia is typically below average during winter and spring.
The bureau has predicted a drier than average July to September, with northern Victoria and the southern Riverina currently having a greater than 80 per cent chance of a drier than average month. Many parts of the region are not expected to exceed 100mm in rainfall over the three-month period.
Current ocean indicators are beginning to show some signs of potential El Niño development, with sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean slowly warming since April.
Waters below the surface of the tropical Pacific are now warmer than average, a common precursor to El Niño events.
A neutral ENSO phase has little effect on Australian climate.