Dry spell will continue once El Nino develops

Farmer Arun Sharma with his labourers shows how the dry weather condition has affected his farm at Nukuloa in Ba. Picture: REINAL CHAND

THE prolonged dry spell gripping the country could continue affecting us once El Niño develops.

A government statement said the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was in a neutral state, neither El Niño nor La Niña.

“However, most international climate outlook models and recent warming in the tropical Pacific suggest the likelihood of El Niño developing in the later part of 2018 has increased to 70 per cent chance,” the statement said.

“Once developed, the El Niño is likely to continue through to at least most of the first half of 2019.

“The chances of neutral conditions to continue is less than 30 per cent, with the possibility of a La Niña to form is almost negligible this year and into early next year.”

Fiji normally experiences drier than average conditions during an El Niño event.

According to the statement, while the event could continue to affect Fiji’s climate during the wet season from November to April, its impact was most greatly felt during the dry season in the following year.

“It could also potentially delay the onset of the rainy season, which usually starts in November.

“This year already has been an interesting year. Suppressed rainfall was experienced in many parts of Fiji since mid-June, 2018.

“In fact, some record-breaking total monthly lowest rainfall was recorded during August, 2018, with Nabouwalu, Laucala Bay, Monasavu, Vanuabalavu and Tokotoko recording its lowest total monthly rainfall for August since observations began in 1935, 1942, 1980, 1985 and 1992, respectively.”

Rarawai mill to Yaqara also recorded 85 consecutive dry days from mid-June to early September.

An extended period of dry days which ranged from 33 to 69 was also experienced at a majority of stations in the West and North from June to September.

“The accumulated rainfall over the June to August, 2018, period was significantly drier than normal over majority of the country, with well below average rainfall recorded in most parts of the Western Division and Northern Vanua Levu. While rainfall was experienced in September compared with July and August, it is still significantly less to recover from the rainfall deficiencies which have accumulated from the middle of June.

“Rainfall activity is expected to pick up as the country progresses towards the wet season. However, the possible El Niño event is likely to suppress rainfall and could delay the onset of the wet season, which normally begins in November.”

More than 200mm of rainfall is needed in the next three months to overcome the rainfall deficiencies.

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