La Nina alert issued for eastern Australia

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SYDNEY, November 23 (Xinhua) — The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) announced on Tuesday that a La Niña event has settled in the tropical Pacific and will mark a stormy summer for much of eastern Australia.

BoM’s climate modeling suggested that the event will likely last until the beginning of Australia’s fall in March.

La Nina, meaning “girl” in Spanish, is a complex weather phenomenon that occurs every few years.

Extreme weather expert Milton Speer of the Sydney University of Technology (UTS) told Xinhua that the announcement came as little surprise given the type of weather Australia’s eastern states are currently experiencing.

Parts of New South Wales (NSW), Queensland and Victoria have already experienced heavy rains and flooding, and the BoM announced that October rain levels were 8 percent above normal levels.

In addition, BoM recorded its first tropical cyclone, Cyclone Paddy, off the coast of Christmas Island, high above the northwest coast of Australia, on Tuesday morning.

Speer told Xinhua that higher ocean surface temperatures in northern Australia are a strong sign of the impending event.

“Sea surface temperatures at the very top of Australia are quite abnormal.”

Residents in Queensland and NSW need to be prepared for constant, heavy rain and storms throughout the summer, Speer said.

He also said that rising temperatures due to global warming could see such weather events become even more extreme in Australia.

“One of the factors in climate change is the warming of the oceans, and particularly in tropical Equatorial regions. So there seems to be more usable moisture.”

Australia’s last major La Nina event was between the summer of 2010 and 2012, causing some of the wettest years ever recorded and widespread flooding.

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