We’re coming out of a La Niña weather event, which means the likelihood of damaging floods and coastal storms is abating. So how is La Niña likely to play out from here?
Australia has been in the grip of a La Niña weather event since about the end of winter 2020. This has been characterised by a rainier than normal summer and also periods of coastal storms and flooding. So let’s look at where to from here for the La Niña weather pattern.
“You can contact your local council to find out when the map for your area was last updated Reflecting on the summer that was, it’s easy to see La Niña’s effect on our weather patterns.”
What’s La Niña and El Niño?
La Niña and El Niño are weather patterns measured by the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), which records interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean air.
We’re heading towards the end of a La Niña event, during which ocean surface temperatures in central and equatorial Pacific Ocean drop, resulting in higher winds, low pressure systems and higher rainfall across Australia’s eastern seaboard . Many people remember the Queensland floods of 2010 and 2011 and Cyclone Yasi in 2011, which took place during La Niña cycles.
Conversely, during an El Niño weather pattern, sea temperatures rise across the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. During an El Niño event, Australia’s eastern seaboard typically experiences lower than average rainfall, as well as higher and more extreme temperatures, cyclones and higher fire danger .
Word from the BoM
The latest advice  from the Bureau of Meteorology indicates the El Niño Southern-Oscillation (ENSO) is at neutral levels, with below-surface ocean temperatures at normal levels.
The Southern Oscillation Index is also close to zero, with little indication of a return to La Niña wetter weather patterns in the coming months. This is a pattern that is expected to continue until the end of Australia’s 2021 winter.
The BoM says The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) is currently the strongest climate driver influencing Australia’s weather patterns. It notes, “the MJO has moved into the Australian region at moderate strength and is expected to bring increased cloudiness and rainfall to far northern Australia … this also brings an increased risk of tropical low/cyclone activity.”
Reflecting on the summer that was, it’s easy to see La Niña’s effect on our weather patterns. According to figures  published by the ABC, there was a 29 per cent increase in rainfall this summer, accounting for what the national broadcaster termed, “the soggiest summer in four years.” Southern states including Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia were especially rainy this summer.
But overall, the temperature across Australia rose by 0.06 per cent on average this summer, with January 2021 the sixth hottest on record. So although La Niña years may have some small effect on lessening rising air temperatures, it’s not enough to counter overall trends.
As this shows, climate change is irreparably changing weather patterns. Which makes it more important than ever to have the right insurance in place.
Talk to your Steadfast broker today to check your cover is right for your business.
 Climate Driver Update, Bureau of Meteorology, accessed 06/04/21, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/
 Record breaking La Niña events, Bureau of Meteorology, accessed 05/01/21, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/history/ln-2010-12/
 ABC News, accessed 03/03/21, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-03/la-nina-delivers-australias-coolest-summer-in-nine-years/13207132
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